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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:
    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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  • November 26, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in November 2019. The selected articles and link to PubMed provided below represent the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals last month. The list is compiled from PubMed for any author using “MedStar” in the author affiliation. Congratulations to this month’s authors. We look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on here.

    Selected research:

    1. Silent Myocardial Infarction and Sudden Cardiac Death—Finding the Culprit
      Jama Cardiology, 2019. DOI:
      Kuku KO, Olatunji-Bello T, Garcia-Garcia HM.
    1. Neurogenic Stunned Myocardium in Severe Neurological Injury
      Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, DOI:10.1007/s11910-019-0999-7
      Kenigsberg BB, Barnett CF, Mai JC, Chang JJ.
    1. Evaluation of Risk-Assessment Tools for Severe Postpartum Hemorrhage in Women Undergoing Cesarean Delivery.
      Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2019. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003574
      Kawakita T, Mokhtari N, Huang JC, Landy HJ.
    1. Bariatric Surgery Among Vulnerable Populations: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid Expansion
      Surgery: Official Journal of the Society of University Surgeons, Central Surgical Association, and the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2019.05.005
      Gould KM, Zeymo A, Chan KS, DeLeire T, Shara N, Shope TR, Al-Refaie WB.
    1. Does a Care Bundle Reduce Racial Disparities in Postcesarean Surgical Site Infections?
      American Journal of Perinatology, 2019. DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-1688822
      Kawakita T, Umans JG.
  • November 25, 2019

    By Laura S. Johnson, MD

    The holidays often involve lots of time in the kitchen preparing grand feasts for family and friends. With extra people in the kitchen and so much food going into the oven and simmering on the stovetop, accidents can happen.

    According to the National Fire Protection Association, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve. Some of the most common culprits are scalding burns from spilling or being splashed by grease or boiling liquids.

    During the flurry of holiday activity, you may be tempted to rush or cut corners. But by following a few simple steps and knowing what to do if accidents happen, you’ll be able to focus on family—and food!—without the need for a trip to the hospital.

    Tips to Avoid Burns in the Kitchen

    While some of these tips may seem like common sense, we all could use a reminder from time to time.

    Watch out for children

    Be mindful of where they are, and keep them out of the kitchen if they’re too young to understand the dangers. Don’t try to prepare or handle hot food while holding a child, and make sure hot items and pot handles are well out of their reach.

    Wear proper clothing

    Before you start making that delicious meal you have planned, look at what you’re wearing.

    Do you have shoes on? If you spill something hot or grease begins spattering, you’ll want your feet protected.

    Are you in short sleeves? Long sleeves will protect your skin from grease spattering. However, don’t wear baggy or loose shirts, as they can catch fire when reaching over the stove or into the oven.

    Do you have oven mitts handy? This may surprise you, but we often see people who were burned by grabbing a hot item with bare hands without thinking. Mitten types are best for taking things out of the oven because they also protect the back of your hands.

    Use your kitchen equipment properly

    Before you use any new kitchen gadgets, read the instructions so you know how to use them correctly.

    When putting a pot or pan on the stovetop, make sure the handles are turned inward and not hanging over the edge of the stove. This will keep you and others from bumping into it and sending a pan full of hot food flying. And don’t underestimate the danger of steam. Stand back from a hot pot when you remove the lid, and be careful when you pour hot liquids into a bowl or colander.

    Keep hot pads, oven mitts or towels near your stove, but make sure you don’t set them on or near a burner where they can catch fire.

    Do you have a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen? Make sure it’s in working order and that you know how to use it. And don’t forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

    Be careful with that turkey

    Just about any way you prepare a turkey comes with a risk of burn injuries.

    Deep frying turkeys has become popular, but it can be dangerous. Before starting, read the safety instructions that came with your fryer. Set the fryer on a level spot a safe distance from your home and trees. Make sure the turkey is thawed because dropping a frozen turkey into the vat of hot oil can cause a flare-up and make the oil boil over. After the turkey is cooked, let the oil cool overnight before disposing of it.

    Another common burn culprit is greasy turkey drippings. The drippings pan will be heavy, and if it’s not solidly supported underneath, it can fold and spill everywhere when you pick it up.

    There also are occasional reports of turkeys catching fire in the oven, which is why it’s important to know what to do in the event of a kitchen fire.

    How to Put out a Kitchen Fire

    First, let’s discuss what you absolutely should not do with a kitchen fire:

    • Do not open the oven if there is a fire inside.
    • Do not throw water on it.
    • Do not try to put a burning pot or pan in the sink or take it outside.

    If something catches fire in the oven, shut the oven off and back away. Fire needs oxygen, and you’ll only fan the flames if you open the door. The fire should eventually die down on its own. Once it’s cooled, you can open the oven and clean things up.

    If there’s a fire on the stovetop, you want to cut off its oxygen. You can do this by covering the pot or pan with a lid. If this doesn’t work, pour baking soda on it or grab the fire extinguisher. Don’t try to smother the fire with a towel unless it’s soaking wet.

    If an oven or stove fire doesn’t die down within a few minutes or it begins to spread, call the fire department immediately.

    What to Do If You Get a Burn

    Hopefully, you’ll never need to treat a burn. But accidents happen, so it’s best to be prepared.

    The biggest mistake I see people make is using cold water or ice on a burn. Instead, run the wound under room-temperature tap water for 10 minutes. Then apply a first aid burn cream or petroleum jelly and a bandage.

    If your clothing catches fire, don’t forget the old saying: Stop, drop and roll.

    Some burns may require medical treatment. If the burn is bigger than the palm of your hand or there is blistering, seek help. You also may want to consider seeking treatment at a specialized Burn Center like ours.

    The American Burn Association recommends you receive treatment from a burn center if you have:

    • Burns that involve the face, hands, feet, genitals or major joints
    • Third-degree burns, which can appear whitish, charred or translucent with no sensation in the burned area when pricked with a pin
    • Burns that cover more than 10 percent of total body surface area
    • A pre-existing medical condition that can complicate recovery, such as diabetes

    Read more: When to seek treatment at a burn center

    You can always call your local emergency department or urgent care center, if you’re unsure whether you should seek medical treatment.

    Slow down—the family will wait for the food. Don't spoil the meal and the day by not paying attention, hurting yourself or others, or starting a fire. By following these simple safety tips and remaining mindful in the kitchen, you’ll be able to spend your holidays at home enjoying all that wonderful food you made, not at a burn center.

  • November 24, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Recently published research evaluated nurse and patient care technician workflow to identify opportunities for providing education to patients during care. The study sought to examine the feasibility of implementing a diabetes education program on a tablet computer in the hospital setting within existing nursing workflow with existing staff.

    “Understanding Nursing Workflow for Inpatient Education Delivery: Time and Motion Study” was published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality. The collaborative research team included Kelley M. Baker, MA and Kelly M. Smith, MSc, PhD from the MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety and MedStar Health Research Institute; and Michelle Magee, MD from the MedStar Diabetes Institute, MedStar Health Research Institute and the School of Medicine and Healthcare Sciences at Georgetown University.

    The researchers conducted a time and motion study of nurses and patient care technicians on three medical-surgical units within a 912-bed tertiary care medical center. Two units were standard medical-surgical units and the third unit was a cardiac care unit. Five trained observers conducted observations in 2-hour blocks. During the observation block, one observer shadowed a nurse and one observer shadowed a patient care technician and recorded tasks, locations, and their durations using a web-based time and motion data collection tool.

    The results of this observation study show that nurses spent approximately one-third of their time in direct patient care and 60% on the unit but not in a patient room. Patient care technicians spent 42% of their time in direct patient care, compared with nurses. Patient care technicians averaged 18.2 tasks per hour, while nurses averaged 16.2. On average, the amount of time spent for a direct patient care session was 3:42 minutes for nurses and 3:02 minutes for patient care technicians. For nurses, 56% of task durations were 2 minutes or less and 38% were 1 minute or less. For patient care technicians, 62% of task durations were 2 minutes or less and 44% were 1 minutes or less. Nurses visited 5.3 patient rooms per hour, while patient care technicians visited 9.4 patient rooms per hour.

    The research team concluded that within the existing workflow of nurses and patient care technicians, constantly in and out of patient rooms, it is possible to deliver a tablet to the patient to provide diabetes education. However, the short duration of direct patient care sessions could potentially limit the ability of the nurses and patient care technicians to spend much time with each patient on instruction for use of the technology platform or in answering questions about the content. Diabetes self-management education and support is beneficial for persons living with diabetes. Future research should identify ways to implement technology to support education delivery in the hospital within the existing workflow for nurses and patient care technicians.

    This research was funded by the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R34DK109503). Dr. Smith also received funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number UL1TR001409.

    JMIR Nursing, 2019. DOI: 10.2196/15658

  • November 24, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The Master's in Health Informatics & Data Science (HIDS) at Georgetown University is an industry-driven program, focused on current and emerging technologies that will inform healthcare. Students will gain core competency in data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning applications to achieve Precision Medicine and Value-based healthcare. The program curriculum aligns with the core competencies for training in the field of medical informatics by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

    Georgetown University’s graduate and professional programs are among the most rigorous and respected around the world. The program offers students access to Georgetown’s distinguished faculty and unique opportunities in the nation’s capital.

    If you are a prospective student and desire more information about the program, visit here.


  • November 24, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Join us in congratulating Cristiane Gomes-Lima, MD, on her 2019 Women Advancing Thyroid Research (WATR) award from the American Thyroid Association (ATA). The WATR is a new award from the American Thyroid Association that recognizes and celebrates the work of women that are leading outstanding thyroid research. The WATR Award is sponsored by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. through the Rosalind Franklin Society.

    Dr. Gomes-Lima presented her award-winning work, “Do Molecular Profiles of Primary versus Metastatic Radioiodine Refractory Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Differ?” as a highlighted oral presentation at the ATA conference in late October. Her work was recognized at the Women in Thyroid meeting of the ATA.

    The research focused on patients with advanced differentiated thyroid cancer. The research team sought to understand the molecular biology of the primary tumor and its metastases. They leveraged a bioinformatics approach to explore the interconnections of abnormal cancer genes in the context of thyroid physiology. In the era of precision medicine, this knowledge is essential to offer optimal treatment choices for our patients. “This award reassures my commitment to advance health through research,” said Dr. Gomes-Lima.

    Dr. Cristiane Gomes-Lima graduated in Medicine from the University of Brasilia, Brazil. She completed her Internal Medicine residency, followed by Endocrinology fellowship and a master’s degree in Health Sciences. After working in clinical practice, she pursued a post-graduate research fellowship in thyroid cancer. She is currently a research fellow at MedStar Health Research Institute, in Washington, D.C., and a guest researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

    In addition to Dr. Gomes-Lima, there were three other recipients of the award: Drs. Mariella Tutter, Silvia Ippolito, and Rosa Falcone. The ATA press release can be viewed here.

  • November 24, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) is now accepting applications for its KL2 Junior Faculty Scholars Program. Projects that are novel, inter- or multi-disciplinary and collaborative will be favored. The KL2 scholars will be awarded up to $90, 000 salary support and $40,000 project support per year (for up to three years).

    Who is eligible: Junior Faculty with a full-time or equivalent appointment at a GHUCCTS institution (Georgetown University, Howard University, or MedStar Health) at the time of award activation. Scholars must devote 75% effort to the program for three yearsscholars must be US Citizens, Non-citizen Nationals, or Permanent Residents. Individuals who were, or currently are Principal Investigator of NIH R01, P01 or P50 subprojects, or individual K (e.g., K01, K08, K22, K23) grant ARE NOT eligible; current/former PIs of non-NIH peer reviewed research grants >$100k annual direct costs are ineligible.

    Learn more about the program and applicatation requirements on the GHUCCTS website.

    Pre-Applications are due DECEMBER 13, 2019
    Final Applications are due FEBRUARY 19, 2020

    Online Informational Sessions:
    November 22nd - 2:00PM
    November 25th - 5:30PM
    December 2nd – 3:00PM
    December 4th- 2:00PM

    To register for the sessions, e-mail GHUCCTS.EDUCATION@GEORGETOWN.EDU

    Learn more on the GHUCCTS website

    QUESTIONS? Contact the Executive Committee:
    Jason G. Umans, MD, PhD
    Dexter L. Lee, PhD
    Kathryn Sandberg, PhD