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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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  • April 05, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health is participating in a multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial to help evaluate treatment options for patients with COVID-19. We are proud to be contributing to the overall research happening during this pandemic. Read more about this work here.

    The press release from sponsor of this research can be found here.

  • April 05, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Recently published research from a collaborative team from across MedStar Health hospitals sought to compare patient demographics, treatment, and outcomes for Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor-induced angioedema to outcomes for patients with angioedema from other causes in our regional health-care system. ACE angioedema has not been characterized in comparison with angioedema from other causes in acute hospitalized patients.

    Angioedema is the rapid or swelling of the area beneath the skin. It is normally an allergic reaction, but it can also be hereditary It tends to affect areas with loose areas of tissue, especially the face and throat, as well as the limbs and genitals.

    The study “ACE inhibitor angioedema: characterization and treatment versus non-ACE angioedema in acute hospitalized patients” retrospectively compared patients admitted from the emergency department with angioedema or developed angioedema during the hospital course.   The electronic medical record data abstraction tool included demographics, etiology of angioedema, treatments, clinical outcomes, and intensive care unit (ICU) admission and intubation.

    A total of 855 patient records were screened and 575 cases met the inclusion criteria of angioedema diagnosis. Of these, 297 had ACE angioedema and 278 had angioedema from other causes. Epinephrine was prescribed in 21% of ACE angioedema cases. One-third of patients in all groups were admitted to the ICU, and about 25% required intubation. Previous history of ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema was found in 63 of 278 non-ACE cause angioedema patients (23%) and in 23 (8%) in the ACE cause group. Age was significantly higher in the ACE cause group. At least 80% of cases in all groups were African American.  The current data suggest that angioedema poses a significant risk to patients regardless of the etiology, as 25% of patients required airway protection in the form of intubation.

    The research concluded that ACE inhibitor-induced angioedema represented half of angioedema admissions over the study period.  The study found that physicians often prescribed medications that are known not to be effective for treating ACE-induced angioedema. This finding may be to the difficulty of making a definitive diagnosis. The study also identified that over 95% of the documented indications for ACE inhibitors were for hypertension. This finding supports consideration of alternate medications such as angiotensin receptor blockers to avoid the potential for angioedema from ACE inhibitors, especially in high-risk patients.

    The study team included David S. Weisman, MD, DO; Nelly Arnouk, MD; M. Bilal Ashar, MD; Raheel Qureshi, MD; Anagha Kumar, Sameer Desale , Lyn Camire and Stephen Pineda  from MedStar Good Samaritan Hosptial, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital and MHRI.

    Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives, DOI:10.1080/20009666.2020.1711641

  • April 05, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    The Spring Regulatory Update & Hot Topics in Clinical Research conference will be held on Tuesday, April 21 from 9:00am to 2:45pm.

    This annual meeting brings researchers, administrators, and clinical professionals from throughout the Clinical and Translational Sciences Awards (CTSA) region together for collaborative discussion and response to regulatory revisions and identified clinical research priorities within the current landscape of clinical trials.

    The focus for this meeting will be on “COVID-19: the Virus, Preparedness in the time of Crisis, and Clinical Research." The event is free and open to any individual in the capital region that leads or supports clinical research programs.

    Please  register online by Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

    The event organizers are committed to the safety and health of our community and are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and CDC guidelines. We encourage individuals that are interested in attending this program to RSVP. 

    The Conference will be via web, the organizers will communicate any updates or changes to the registered attendees.  

  • April 05, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Applications are now being accepted for the Pilot Awards for Clinical Translational Studies (PTCS) through GHUCCTS.  Applications Submissions are online at PTCS Applications. The completed application and signed forms (institutional support forms) are due by Monday, May 4th, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

    Funding Priorities

    • Research that addresses the transmission, course, and consequences of COVID virus infection
    • Investigations of environmental determinants of health, particularly those involving clinical and/or public health databases and geospatial mapping, and have potential to point toward solutions through surveillance or policy. 
    • Innovative community engagement methods and technologies including research aimed at engaging minority, vulnerable, or other understudied populations;
    • Research that brings together a new type of team;
    • Research that expands a translational research focus across the lifespan including to pediatric and/or geriatric populations;
    • Innovative approaches to the implementation of precision medicine;
    • Engaging individuals with Opioid Use Disorders in research and clinical care while developing effective models of care delivered within medical settings of interest;
    • Research to address health disparities and the significant burden of conditions that disproportionately affect rural, minority, and other underserved populations.

    Eligibility

    Applicants must have a full-time faculty appointment at one of the GHUCCTS institutions (Howard, Georgetown, DCVA, MedStar, ORNL). Each application should identify a Contact PI that will be responsible for coordinating and submitting the application. Research teams can include collaborators who are not GHUCCTS affiliated.

    Funding Opportunity Details

    • Award Amount: up to $40,000 (includes Institutional cost share)
    • Duration: Funds must be spent by March 31st, 2021.
    • A 50% cost-share with the applicant institution is required. (In most cases this has previously been negotiated with the participating institutions.)

    Applications Submissions are online at PTCS Applications. The completed application and signed forms (institutional support forms) are due by Monday, May 4th, 2020 at 11:59 pm

    About GHUCCTS

    The missions of Georgetown-Howard University Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and the national Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) programs highlight promotion of interdisciplinary research that translates basic research findings into clinical applications and clinical research into community practice, and improving the process of research. It is also our goal to implement research that will benefit underserved populations, including minorities, people with disabilities, and older adults. Additional priorities recently indicated by the agency that administers CTSAs, the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) (see https://ncats.nih.gov/ctsa), further emphasize interaction and collaboration of the 62 CTSA hubs spread throughout the United States (see https://ctsacentral.org).  

  • April 02, 2020

    By Ellie Kelsey, RD, LD, CNSC

    One way we can try to keep a sense of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic is to create well-balanced meals for ourselves and our loved ones. But how?

    Dispelling Dietary Myths

    Before I share healthy eating tips, I’d like to dispel two dietary myths.

    First, eating a balanced diet involves getting nutrients like vitamins A, C, and D, zinc and selenium—all really important for your immune system. But it’s important to know that no amount of fruits, vegetables, vitamins, or other healthy foods will protect or prevent you from getting this virus.

    A second myth involves mega-dosing vitamins or any type of food. This will not help your body because you can't absorb thousands of milligrams of anything in a single day. In fact, your body can only absorb 250 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C at one time.

    To prevent the spread of COVID-19, I recommend following the CDC guidelines about social distancing and hand hygiene.

    Shopping Tips

    Here are three tips to keep in mind to help you buy items you need for well-balanced meals:

    Have a Plan: Take a few extra minutes to create a list and plan meals you’ll actually eat, so you can eat well without overstocking and overspending.

    Don’t Panic: Yes, empty shelves can be unnerving, but anxiety could lead you to buy things you think you need but actually don’t.

    Be Kind, Don’t Buy Out the Store: Current recommendations are to stock enough food for 14 days of quarantine. Many shoppers are buying far more than they need for a two-week stint. As a result, neighbors may be in the heartbreaking situation of not having food or supplies for their families.

    One more thing: If you use reusable grocery bags when you shop for food, consider disinfecting them after every trip to the store.

    What If You Must Shelter in Place?

    Here’s what to have on hand:

    Lean proteins: Skinless, boneless chicken or lean, ground turkey/beef, and Beyond®/ImpossibleTM meat items. You can freeze these and save them for future meals.

    Vegetarians, be aware: although plant-based meats don’t have saturated fat, they’re still highly processed foods with a lot of chemicals. If you want protein, you can find it in other sources.

    Frozen fruits and vegetables:  A great alternative to fresh produce. Frozen veggies often have much lower sodium content than canned varieties. Just as important, frozen fruits and veggies have a similar nutrient profile to fresh fruits and veggies, so they are ideal alternatives during periods of social distancing.

    • Fruits with longer shelf lives: Make sure you wash fresh fruits and other produce before eating them. And as a general rule, be aware that anything that comes in a plastic container tends to go bad faster than fruits sold in their own skin
      • Try apples. Keep them in the fridge so they’ll last a little bit longer
      • Berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries) have the shortest shelf life of any fruits
      • If you prefer bananas, buy them as green as you can find them. They'll last a little longer
      • Grapefruits and mangoes last a little longer if refrigerated
      • Buy avocados just before they get ripe. They’ll last about a week in the fridge
    • Dried fruit: These have a similar nutrient content to fresh fruits, but with the water removed. You'll feel less full from eating them and get more sugar per serving
    Frozen fruits and veggies have a similar nutrient profile to fresh fruits and veggies, so they are ideal alternatives during periods of social distancing. https://bit.ly/2xt38yG via @MedStarWHC
    Click to Tweet

     

    Whole grains: Whole wheat pastas, brown rice, and quinoa are all shelf-stable. They offer more fiber and nutrients than their “paler” counterparts. Consider trying pasta made from chickpeas or legumes to add more protein and fiber to your diet while in quarantine. Buy whole wheat bread and keep it in the freezer. Whole grains and chickpeas are also a good source of zinc, which supports your immune system.

    Eggs: Raw eggs kept in the fridge can last for weeks. Add eggs to rice dishes, serve with veggies, or eat them plain to add lean protein to your diet. If you have certain heart conditions, don’t exceed three egg yolks per week. But you can have egg whites, which is the primary source of protein.

    Other dry goods: Try beans; unsalted snacks; raisins; unsalted nuts; and unsalted, no-sugar-added nut butters.

    Lean (less than 2% fat) dairy: Greek yogurt is low in fat, high in protein, and can last a few weeks in the fridge. Eat it plain, use it as a condiment, or use it to make something creamy.

    Look for dairy fortified with vitamin D (most Greek yogurt is not). Vitamin D supports your immune system and bone health. It’s hard to meet all your vitamin D needs when you’re indoors without much access to sunlight, our primary source of vitamin D.

    Treats and snacks: Let’s face it, comfort food is real. As you did before COVID-19, don’t avoid all treats. Get a few treats you enjoy and eat them in small portions to avoid overeating them—or eating them all in one sitting!

    Eating Healthy Together

    Research shows that it's good for families, quarantined or not, to enjoy structured, social meals together. Here’s a sample menu that you and your family can enjoy:

    • Breakfast: Toast a piece of whole wheat bread and add an egg or egg white. Maybe also add some spinach or sliced fruit. A good way to add veggies into your breakfast is to mix them in with your eggs for additional nutrients
    • Lunch: Start with some lean protein such as eggs, chicken, fish, or beans. Add a starch—maybe rice or pasta—then mix in frozen vegetables and perhaps a sauce with olive oil or wasabi vinegar
    • Dinner: How about a nice chickpea pasta with a lean meat in a tomato sauce? Choose a tomato sauce with the lowest amount of sodium, and top with a little bit of parmesan cheese

    Moving Forward Well Prepared

    The humbling thing about COVID-19 is that it can affect anyone, regardless of health or socioeconomic status. Cooking well-balanced meals doesn’t mean you won’t get sick. But eating a wide and colorful variety of fruits and vegetables will make sure that you get the nutrients your immune system needs to function at its best during this pandemic.

  • March 30, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    One of the best ways we can maintain good health is by being physically active on a regular basis. In fact, active kids are healthier kids who experience greater success in life. Ideally, active habits start in early childhood and continue as we grow and develop, but, it’s never too late to start becoming more active.

    Given the increased hours, days, and weeks we’re spending at home during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important that we all keep moving. Our future health depends on it.

    What kind of physical activity do kids need?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers research-based physical activity recommendations for all ages, races, genders, and ability levels. In general, the CDC recommends the following physical activity for various age groups:

    • Preschool-aged children between the ages of three and five should be physically active multiple times during the day through various play activities.
    • Children and adolescents between the ages of six to 17 should participate in a mix of aerobic and strengthening activities for at least 60 minutes every day.

    Why physical activity is important for your child’s health

    The National Association of Physical Literacy defines physical literacy as the ability, balance, confidence, desire, and explorative nature to be active for life. Kids develop physical literacy by moving and exploring their surrounding environment. As babies, kids start to navigate the world around them, using trial and error to develop the foundational skills of movement. These are the building blocks that kids expand upon as they grow, learning and creating more complex movement patterns.

    Kids who are active early are more likely to want to keep moving.

    It is often this early activity level that will determine how active a child will be as an adult. Without the basic foundation of movement skills, children struggle to stay physically active. In comparison, kids who develop early physical literacy skills are more likely to enjoy athletic activity and stay moving as they grow up.

    Active kids do better in life.

    Kids who learn to move better are more likely to want to stay active. That’s why research suggests active kids do better in life.

    The Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program published a report in 2018 proving that active kids are healthier kids because:

    • Active kids are more likely to maintain a healthy weight from childhood to adulthood, with one-tenth of the risk of obesity as compared to inactive children. Childhood obesity is directly linked to lack of exercise and nearly 20% of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese.
    • Active kids perform better in school. Physical activity promotes normal growth and development and improves sleep. As a result, active kids demonstrate better attention in school and higher test scores, which increases the likelihood that they will attend college. In adulthood, this translates to improved productivity at work, with a better chance of earning a higher income compared to inactive counterparts.
    • Active kids make healthier choices as teenagers. Active kids are less likely to participate in risky behaviors, including smoking, drinking, and drug use.
    • Active kids are less likely to have chronic diseases later in life. Regular exercises can decrease the risk of seven out of 10 of the most common chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. As a result, healthy habits experience fewer health costs and an overall decrease in morbidity.
    • Active kids tend to become healthy active adults. And, children of active parents are twice as likely to be active themselves.

    Research suggests #ActiveKids are healthy kids who do better in life. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, physical therapist Emily Coates shares why, plus tips to get them moving while they’re stuck at home amidst #COVID-19.
    Click to Tweet

    Physical activity can keep your kids healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As a parent or caretaker stuck inside with your kids, these may not be the immediate concerns in your mind. But physical activity has many additional benefits that will improve health-related quality of life. While your family is confined to your home during the COVID-19 pandemic, physical activity can:

    • Reduce stress and anxiety caused by uncertainty
    • Improve immune function
    • Stave off the negative effects of inactivity (e.g., obesity, depression, and chronic disease)

    How to help your kids establish active habits at home

    While you’re at home, it’s important to create a positive environment that focuses on fun and movement. Given the fear and anxiety we are all experiencing during this pandemic, both you and your kids can benefit from physical movement more now than ever.

    If you aren’t already active as a family, now is a great time to introduce more exercise into your new routine. To increase your kid’s physical activity, find creative ways to get moving that work for your family and the space you have available. Right now, that might be your living room.

    Try these indoor activities to get your kids moving at home.

    There are all sorts of activities that can be done at home with limited space and equipment. The best kinds of indoor activities are those that are fun and encourage exercise without necessarily feeling like a workout. Try these indoor activity ideas to get your kids moving at home:

    • Dance parties
    • Animal races (move like a crab, bear, or frog)
    • Nerf wars
    • Balloon ball
    • Movement-based games, such as charades or Simon Says
    • Virtual activities, such as online kids’ fitness videos and movement-based video games

    Don’t be afraid to encourage outdoor activity.

    If it’s possible for your family, safely get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Maybe a walk or bike ride appeals to your family. Other outdoor activities might include a game of tag, frisbee, or catch. As long as you have the space to maintain appropriate social distancing, get outside and play.

    Be sure to follow CDC guidelines for public health.

    As you encourage your kids to get active, keep in mind the recommendations of public health experts, including:

    • Practicing good hand hygiene by washing hands with warm, soapy water at least 20 seconds before and after all activity
    • Following social distancing guidelines by remaining in groups of less than 10 and maintaining space between
    • Avoiding the sharing of sports or fitness equipment, including public playgrounds
    • Cleaning and disinfecting any equipment before and after use
    • Refraining from touching frequently-used surfaces (e.g., handrails on a walking path)

    Our days are quite a bit different now, but we can all keep moving to stay active and healthy.


    To learn more about COVID-19 public health recommendations, visit MedStarHealth.org/Coronavirus.

    How are you getting your kids moving while they’re stuck at home? Share your comments with us on social media!

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