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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:
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    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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  • October 30, 2020

    By Natasha Durant, PhD, Pain Psychologist at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

    According to the Academy of Pain Management, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. In fact, pain is the most common reason that people see a physician. Pain— especially chronic pain—can be a complex condition that involves more than a physical sensation. Often the pain is caused by biological, psychological, and emotional factors as well.

    Chronic pain can cause depression, anxiety, and stress, all of which can make the pain worse. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, pain psychologist Natasha Durant shares why seeing a psychologist can help manage chronic pain:

    Click to Tweet

    How can seeing a psychologist help with chronic pain?

    When a person is in pain, it affects their thoughts and emotions. Pain can cause depression, anxiety, and stress, all of which can make pain worse. Pain may interrupt your ability to sleep and affect your appetite, adding to your body’s dysregulation, and these factors can make pain worse as well. It’s a vicious cycle. To treat pain effectively, you must address the emotional and psychological aspects as well as the physical.

    While individuals with pain seldom think to seek assistance from a psychologist, more and more clinicians are starting to recognize that they can be a valuable part of a comprehensive pain management treatment plan.

    What you can expect if you decide to see a psychologist to help manage your pain.

    Most psychologists specializing in pain management use several tools to help them conceptualize the patient’s situation and inform the development of the best treatment plan. This usually includes a comprehensive interview and careful behavioral observation. There are also a number of questionnaires that are used to measure mood symptom severity, perceived disability, and personality factors, which further enhance our understanding of a patient’s pain.

    Testing can also examine neurocognitive functioning. Cognitive and neurological processes such as attention, concentration, planning, reaction time, and memory may be impaired in patients with pain. This could be the result of head injuries, interference from the pain itself, or medication effects. In elderly patients, cognitive impairment may also occur as a result of dementia.

    Based on this comprehensive assessment, the psychologist will design a treatment plan specific to your unique needs. Treatment plans may involve teaching you relaxation techniques and other ways to manage stress, addressing any anxiety or depression that may accompany your pain, and, if the pain contributes to insomnia, helping you with that.

    Treating the emotional and psychological aspects of chronic pain can help you cope.

    The majority of patients find they can manage their pain better after just a few sessions with a psychologist, though some, such as individuals with depression or dealing with a degenerative medical condition, may benefit from a longer course of treatment. Alleviating pain isn’t always straightforward. But by helping you understand and manage what you are experiencing, you can cope more effectively with your pain, and move on with your life.

    Want more wellness advice?
    Download and read more articles like this for free in the latest issue of Destination: Good Health.

    Learn More

  • October 30, 2020

    By The MWHC Blog Team

    Tysheen Twitty joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center in 2012, coming onboard as an intern in a 90-day manager-in-training program with the hospital’s Environmental Services (EVS) team.

    “My first impression was witnessing a rapid response,” said Tysheen. “I watched various departments coming together, showing me a teamwork environment. I saw this was a busy place with big teams working toward the same goal. I also noticed the people I met took care of everything the correct way.”

    Within a year and a half, Tysheen was promoted to training and compliance manager, responsible for ensuring his department was compliant and up-to-date with training.

    “I saw opportunities, during our routine regulatory inspections,” said Tysheen. “That’s the time to show our leaders what we are capable of. For example, I walked around to survey every restroom within the organization to report back on the state of pull cords. It was a tall order, but I knew that with the proper planning and the execution of that plan, we would be able get the job done. So that’s what we did, surveyed hundreds of restrooms and reported back within 24 hours.”

    This detailed survey led to corrective action to prevent the pull cords from being used for self-harm. Leadership took note of examples like this and, after two years, Tysheen was promoted to Central Patient Transport (CPT) supervisor. It was then that Tysheen added another important skill set. During his rides to and from the Hospital Center on the Metro, Tysheen began teaching himself video editing by watching instructional videos on YouTube. It wasn’t long before word of his new talent got around. Our Office of Patient Experience (OPX) came calling and the video he made for last year’s OPX Fair was so impressive that he was asked to work on other videos. He produced a 2019 holiday greeting and an inspirational look at our team during the COVID-19 response to the tune of “Rise Up.” In the works: an update to our orientation “One Team” video.

    “When I started making videos, I didn’t even know Dr. Argyros knew my name,” said Tysheen. “He held the door for me once and told me that the “One Team” video we created brought tears to his eyes and he would like to use it to kick off our hospital orientation. I was honored, surprised, and shocked.”

    Tysheen has since been promoted to his current position as the manager of CPT. He eventually wants to become a senior director, managing multiple departments.

    “I feel this hospital is definitely an organization that promotes from within,” said Tysheen. “As long as you’re willing to step up to the plate, you have a bright future here.”

    Looking for a new career opportunity?

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  • October 30, 2020

    By MedStar Team

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and MedStar Health Research Institute to bring together our diverse clinical and research communities to share research that spans disciplines and stages of translation to improve individual and community health.

    On behalf of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and MedStar Health Research Institute, you are invited to Clinical and Translational Research Grand Rounds on Friday, November 6, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. The speaker this month will be Hazel H. Szeto, MD, PhD who will discuss “An alternative to target-based drug discovery-Optimizing mitochondrial bioenergetics to combat noncommunicable diseases”.

    Live Stream Link:

    Dr. Szeto is director of research at the Social Profit Network Research Laboratory, professor emerita of Pharmacology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and scientific founder of Stealth Biotherapeutics. Her serendipitous discovery of a novel class of orally-active, widely-distributed mitochondrial-targeted peptide analogs with profound effects on mitochondrial structure and function has revealed bioenergetic mechanisms as key treatment targets in an almost-dizzying variety of disease models. Preclinical models suggest potential

    benefits in most all clinical domains, from ischemia-reperfusion injury to neurodegeneration, and including heart failure, muscle weakness and disuse atrophy, chemotherapy toxicities, diabetes, vision loss, orthopedic injury, acute kidney injury and progressive chronic kidney disease and a wide range of age-associated chronic diseases. Her research exemplifies widely collaborative and discipline-spanning team science focused on translating basic discoveries to therapeutic impact while revealing new pathophysiological mechanisms and basic biology.

    Research Grand Rounds are open to all members of the research team, from principal investigators to clinical and research coordinators and trainees. Topics covered in the Research Grand Rounds range from community-focused research to best practices and are intended to increase collaboration within the research community in and outside of MedStar Health.

    For more information please contact or visit

  • October 30, 2020

    By MedStar Team

    Researchers from MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital and MedStar Health Physical Therapy were a part of a large multi-center randomized clinical trial that found that newer and more expensive devices, increasingly seen in outpatient physical therapy centers, did not enhance outcomes for patients following their knee replacement relative to conventional care.

    Study findings appear in  a recent issue of the Journal of Arthroplasty, one of the nation’s three leading orthopedic surgery journals and in  JAMA Network Open, JAMA’s on-line journal.

    In the U.S., upwards of 1.0 million people obtain a primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA) per year. Most go on to use outpatient physical therapy—soon after discharge or following a stay at home or another facility. As part of a typical outpatient visit, the patient will initially participate in a warm-up exercise using a recumbent bike designed to increase blood flow and tissue pliability.

    The trial compared 4 exercise interventions: (1) a recumbent bike (which is usual care) compared to the three newer exercise interventions: (2) a bodyweight-adjustable treadmill, (3) a patterned electrical neurostimulation (PENS) devise used with a recumbent bike, and (4) a PENS device used with a bodyweight-adjustable treadmill.

    The study compared intervention outcomes using (1) walking speed, a performance-based measure, and (2) the Knee Injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score or KOOS, the most common patient-report measure used to evaluate TKA outcomes.

    The study enrolled 363 patients with more than 90 participants in each of the study’s four arms across 15 MedStar Physical Therapy outpatient rehabilitation centers. Altogether 19 MedStar orthopedic surgeons referred patients to the study.

    Jean Hsieh, PhD, of MedStar NRH’s research program served as the study’s principal investigator. Dr. Hsieh was assisted by Gerben DeJong, PhD as co-principal investigator. Michele Vita, DPT served as the chief clinical services coordinator with able assistance from Linda Briggs, EdD, AVP for the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network. Biostatistical support for the study came from Alexander Zeymo and Sameer Desale of the MedStar Health Research Institute. The study could not have succeeded without the strong support of John Brickley, VP, MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and John Rockwood, its president.

    The study was funded internally by the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network with support from several outside sources including the company’s whose devices were evaluated.

    Journal of Arthroplasty, Vol. 35 (08), 2054-2065. DOI: 10.1016/j.arth.2020.03.048

  • October 30, 2020

    By MedStar Team

    Researchers from across MedStar Health sought to adapt Diabetes to Go (D2Go), a diabetes survival skills education (DSSE) program for delivery on inpatient behavioral health units (BHU) and to evaluate the feasibility of implementing D2Go-BHU within nursing unit workflow. “Diabetes Education for Behavioral Health Inpatients: Challenges and Opportunities” was published in the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. The study assessed the need for diabetes survival skills education to help patients with self-care during their transition from the hospital.

    The study team used the practical robust implementation and sustainability model implementation science framework to conduct the research. There were 1989 patient admissions observed, among which 264 were discharged with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Interviews, focus groups and feedback were provided from support staff and nurses to design various adaptations for the D2Go-BHU program. Adaptions to the program included (a) delivering education through facilitated group learning sessions, (b) providing paper surveys and a hard copy D2Go survival skills education booklet, (c) and developing videos which were delivered using a secure DVD versus a tablet.

    During the study period, two psychiatry behavioral health units conducted a total of 9 group sessions. The primary diagnosis at hospital discharge was obtained for 29 patients and included suicide attempt (= 10; 35%), depression (= 7; 24%), schizophrenia (= 5; 17%), psychosis (= 7; 17%), bipolar (= 3; 10%), posttraumatic stress disorder (= 1; 3%), delusion (= 1; 3%), homicidal (= 1;3%), and other (= 2; 7%). After completing assessment surveys, the results showed that those with diabetes had lower ASK12 scores compared with those without diabetes. Persons with diabetes answered most items related to what to eat correctly, but less than 33% correctly answered items related to target blood glucose (BG) after a meal, need for checking BG, symptoms of high BG, and where to store oral medicines.

    The study team identified multiple barriers to implementation including lack of standardization of education content by nurse facilitators and difficulty engaging patients for the time required for completion of surveys plus group education. Both nurses and patients preferred a book as it relates to educational materials.  Further research would be needed to determine if individual diabetes education alone or a model which combines individual and group sessions is preferable for this population.

    The team included Joan K. Bardsley MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, from MedStar Health Research Institute, Michelle F. Magee, MD, from MedStar Diabetes Institute and Georgetown University; Kelly M. Baker, MA, and Kelly M. Smith, Msc, PhD, from MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety.

    The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (Grant Number R34-DK-109503).

    Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, DOI: 10.1177/1078390319878781

  • October 30, 2020

    By MedStar Team

    Annual Enrollment is the time to assess your healthcare options for next year and select the coverage that best meets your needs. You have until Nov. 16 to make your selections during 2021 Annual Enrollment. Visit myHR from StarPort or from any computer or mobile device.

    If you wish to keep your current benefits coverage for 2021, you do not need to enroll online. Your 2020 benefit selections and eligible dependents will roll over to 2021, except for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)—you must enroll each year to participate.

    FSAs allow you to set aside pre-tax dollars from your paycheck to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as eligible medical, dental and vision costs, as well as child care and adult day care services.

    Contact the HR Solution Center at 855-674-myHR (6947), select option 4for questions about your benefits offerings.

    Save $360 on your medical premium

    Complete the MyHealth Questionnaire at by Nov. 30 and save approximately $360 a year on your MedStar Select or CareFirst medical premium for 2021.