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  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 


    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.


    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 


    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.


    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.


    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.


    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.


    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.


    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.


    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 


    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.


    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 


    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog: https://bit.ly/3KbVUA1.
    Click to Tweet

     

    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.


    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.

     

    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!


    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

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  • May 14, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Pioneering Heart Care with LVADs

    Because healthy hearts that are appropriate for transplantation are rare, the medical community has turned to advanced technology to find different ways to treat patients with heart failure. A Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) is a mechanical circulatory assist device that helps pump blood from the failing heart into the aorta. It often helps reduce the number of repeat hospitalizations for patients with serious heart disease.

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute heart surgeons implant LVADs while the patient waits for a transplant, allowing the patient to strengthen the heart and body through physical therapy. These devices may also be used for short-term purposes, allowing the heart to rest long enough so that it can recuperate and return to normal, independent function.

    The Power of Trust—Transforming Heart Care

    At MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, our cardiologists and cardiac surgeons have created an integrated heart failure program that offers treatment for all forms of heart failure, no matter how severe.

    Patients with heart failure are evaluated thoroughly by our physicians, including a dedicated team of cardiologists who are experts in providing advanced support. Treatment plans are individualized to address the specific needs and circumstances that patients face. Our group believes that advanced cardiac support demands complex medical decision-making, delivered in a partnership between the physician and the patient and family.

    We offer:

    • The most sophisticated diagnostic tools and advanced treatment options in heart care—with more in our research pipeline.
    • Locations throughout the region
    • State-of-the-art patient care and a staff dedicated to putting our patients first, and
    • A key alliance with Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute—the nation’s #1 heart program

    About MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is a national leader in the research, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and has been the premier destination for cardiac care in the nation’s capital for more than 50 years.

    To schedule an appointment, please call

     If you have heart failure, can you answer YES to any of these questions?



    If you can answer YES to two or more questions, you may want to talk with your doctor about receiving further medical evaluation.

    If you are a patient, call our referral and appointment line:
    202-759-0267.

    If you are a physician, call our consultation line:
    202-877-7777.

    MISSED OUR OTHER TOPICS?

  • May 13, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Immunizations During Pregnancy

    In addition to editing your diet and taking the proper supplements, an important box to check while pregnant is the right immunizations. Even when young and healthy, pregnant women have an increased risk for developing certain disorders, and therefore need to take these steps to protect the baby’s health.

    Recommended immunizations include:

    • Flu shot (particularly if pregnant between October and May)
    • Tdap booster. This prevents Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” which can be fatal if transferred to an infant. The D.C. Metro region has a particularly high rate of this disease, so it is essential in our area.

    These immunizations are safe and will not harm the child. For more ways to keep you and your baby healthy during pregnancy, visit the link below.

    To schedule an appointment please call

    202-877-3627

    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Tamika C. Auguste, MD, FACOG

    Tamika C. Auguste, MD, FACOG

    For an appointment with a MedStar specialist, call 202-877-3627.

    MISSED OUR OTHER TOPICS?

  • May 12, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, nurses celebrate Nurses Week by finding their "Center"
  • May 12, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Brain Surgery Without a Trace

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, a regional leader in skull base surgeries, now offers endoscopic endonasal surgery performed by an interdisciplinary team of experts. Using advanced technology and a growing tool box of specially designed instrumentation, endoscopic endonasal surgical procedures can now be performed on patients with a variety of conditions that once required open brain surgery.

    The endonasal approach is a major medical advance—with multiple benefits for patients:

    • Smaller incisions and often no visible incisions at all
    • Fewer complications with no damage to surrounding tissue
    • Faster recovery with discharge from the hospital within 48 to 72 hours
    • Resumption of activities in days instead of weeks

     

    A Trio of Acclaimed Specialists, One Innovative Surgery

    A team of surgeons combine their expertise and work in tandem to perform pioneering procedures—and produce the best possible outcomes for patients. Timothy DeKlotz, MD, and Stanley Chia, MD, FACS, are the otolaryngology (ENT) experts who surgically navigate the nasal passages, allowing Edward Aulisi, MD, FACS, to perform the neurosurgical portion of the procedures. Using computer-assisted technology, the tumor is removed—the injury is repaired—through the nose.

    To schedule an appointment, please call

    202-877-3627

    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Edward Aulisi, MD, FACS

    Edward Aulisi, MD, FACS
    Chairman of Neurosurgery

    To schedule an appointment, please call 202-877-3627.

    MISSED OUR OTHER TOPICS?

  • May 11, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Voice Disorders and Preservation

    One in six Americans has a communication disability. For many, it’s a voice disorder due to overuse and strain of the vocal cords.

    We often associate voice disorders with professional singers or actors. But the truth is, injuries are just as common for teachers or tour guides – really anyone who uses their voice for a living.

    Speech therapy from a speech-language pathologist is a critical part of any treatment and may be the only treatment you will need. Therapy typically includes learning proper vocal techniques, eliminating behaviors that harm the voice, and stress reduction solutions.

    Common voice preservation suggestions we recommend:

    • Use proper breath support and voice projection techniques
    • Keep yourself adequately hydrated
    • Avoid talking in noisy situations over background noise, including music, office equipment or noisy classrooms
    • Move close to the listener and face them so you can be heard without yelling
    • Use non-vocal ways to attract attention (e.g clap, ring a bell, blow a whistle)
    • Wait until the listener/students/audience is attentive and quiet before speaking
    • Don’t force speech when you have hoarseness
    • Don’t address large audiences without proper amplification
    • Don’t speak extensively during strenuous physical exercise

    The Hearing and Speech Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center provides a full range of audiology and speech services. We utilize state-of-the-art technology in the evaluation and management of our patients. The Center has been providing speech, language, and hearing services to the Washington, D.C., metro community for more than 50 years.

    Our team includes eight audiologists and eight speech-language pathologists, who have more than 75 years of combined experience. They each possess an advanced degree in audiology or speech-language pathology from an accredited university, are highly trained, and hold national certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    To schedule an appointment, call

    202-877-3627

    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Donna Saur, MA, CCC-SLP

    Donna Saur, MA, CCC-SLP

    MISSED OUR OTHER TOPICS?

  • May 10, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Time to Screen Your Hearing?

    An estimated 28 million adults in the United States have a hearing loss. Working with your audiologist to select and be fitted with the most appropriate hearing aids is vital to improving your quality of life.

    Untreated hearing loss can cause embarrassment, social stress, and fatigue for you, your family, friends, and colleagues.

    Signs and symptoms of hearing loss vary from person to person but can include:

    • Difficulty hearing on the telephone
    • Often asking people to repeat themselves
    • Difficulty hearing people speak when there is background noise
    • Difficulty following a conversation when two or more people talk at once
    • Finding that most people seem to mumble or not speak clearly
    • Misunderstanding what others say and responding inappropriately
    • Difficulty understanding the speech of women and children
    • Turning the television volume up until people complain it is too loud
    • Frequently hearing ringing, roaring or hissing sounds
    • Finding that some sounds seem too loud or too soft

    If three or more of these apply to you, we recommend you have your hearing evaluated.

    Our audiologists have the expertise and experience to find the right instrument for your hearing needs. We fit state-of-the-art digital hearing aids and work closely with you until you’re completely comfortable using them. We also offer devices that allow you to adjust your aids by remote control and even wirelessly connect to devices such as phones or tablets.

    As our patient, you can take advantage of our bi-weekly, walk-in hour for hearing aid problems. We can service the device and resolve the issue quickly, rather than requiring you to make an appointment.

    In recognition of Better Hearing & Speech Month, throughout the month of May we are offering free hearing screenings:

    Wednesdays, May 20th and 27th
    10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    Hearing & Speech, GA-102
    110 Irving St., NW

     

    Washington, D.C., 20010

     

    Call 202-877-3627 to learn more or to schedule a hearing test.

    Call to Learn More Today