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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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  • October 04, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health strives to provide associates with the tools and learning opportunities to succeed in the ever-changing healthcare industry. To accomplish this, associates are encouraged to take advantage of MedStar’s Educational Assistance program and unique partnerships with local universities and colleges, including Georgetown University. 

    The Georgetown University’s Executive Masters and Certificate programs address the growing need for sustainable improvements in patient safety and quality education. Through these valuable opportunities, students learn from national experts who have shaped the patient safety and quality landscape, and collaborate with other learners within the healthcare industry.

    Executive Masters Program in Clinical Quality, Safety and Leadership

    • Immerse yourself in advanced theory and concepts of healthcare quality, patient safety science, and organizational leadership
    • 16-month online program, with a four-day onsite networking opportunity held at Georgetown University in D.C.
    • Full-time or part-time enrollment available

    Executive Certificate in Patient Safety and Quality

    • Practice fundamental concepts of systems-thinking, improvement science, and data collection, organization, and analyses
    • Six-month online certificate

    Executive Certificate in Healthcare Safety and Leadership

    • Gain insight on how to become a leader in an ever-changing healthcare system
    • Six-month online certificate 

    Learn more about the programs and apply online

    Note: Participation in Georgetown University’s Executive Masters and Certificate programs may be eligible for Educational Assistance. Refer to your entity’s policy for more information.

  • October 04, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    At MedStar Health, patient safety is our highest priority. The most effective way to reduce the risk of contracting influenza (flu) is to get vaccinated. Even if you received a vaccination last season, immunity decreases over time, and therefore you must be vaccinated on an annual basis.

    Vaccination of associates reduces the risk of transmitting the flu virus to patients, since healthcare workers are frequently linked as the source of flu in healthcare settings. You could have no flu symptoms and still be a carrier, and unknowingly spread it to patients, fellow co-workers, visitors, and your family.

    All MedStar associates, affiliated physicians, volunteers, students, contracted staff, and vendors are required to receive the influenza vaccination by December 4. If you are unable to receive vaccination due to medical contraindications and/or religious exemptions, you must submit an Influenza Vaccination Exemption Form by the October 31 deadline. To obtain an Influenza Vaccination Exemption Form, or more information about influenza vaccinations visit

    MedStar is committed to making the influenza vaccine as accessible to you as possible. Obtain your free flu vaccination from:

    • All Occupational Health offices across the system
    • Unit rounds in high-volume patient care areas
    • Peer immunizers
    • Clinics scheduled at various sites
    • MedStar Health Urgent Care locations

    Note: A valid MedStar ID must be presented in order to receive a free flu vaccination.
    PromptCare offices will submit documentation to Occupational Health.

     For more information about obtaining a flu vaccination, visit an Occupational Health office or go to

  • October 04, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MedStar Health Research Institute and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    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, October 11, 2019 from 12:00 Noon pm to 1:00pm. The speaker will be Tatiana V.D. Sanses, MD. The Talk is titled, “Urinary Incontinence: a symptom, a disease, and a geriatric syndrome”.

    Dr. Tatiana Sanses is Associate Professor and chief of the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Urogynecology, at Howard University. She was recruited to Howard from the University of Maryland in 2017, where she had held a faculty appointment and launched her independently-funded research following completion of her clinical training at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, then at Greater Baltimore Medical Center/University of Maryland Medical Center.

    Her research, which exemplifies our discipline-spanning interest in novel approaches to understudied disorders with protean manifestations, has focused importantly on urinary incontinence and on pelvic organ prolapse, particularly their intersection with functional and symptomatic outcomes. Her ongoing National Institute on Aging-supported research seeks to elucidate common mechanisms linking urinary incontinence and mobility limitation in older women to develop novel rehabilitation strategies and improve quality of life. Please join us for her research presentation, entitled “Urinary Incontinence: a symptom, a disease, and a geriatric syndrome”

    Urinary Incontinence: a Symptom, a Disease, and a Geriatric Syndrome
    Tatiana V.D. Sanses, MD
    Associate Professor and Chief of the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Urogynecology—Howard University

    October 11, 2019
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, True Auditorium (East Building, 1st Floor)

    For those located at remote sites and unable to attend in-person, log on to: on October 11, 2019 at 12:00 Noon to hear Dr. Sanses’ presentation.

    If you have any questions regarding the Research Grand Rounds program, please contact

  • October 04, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Sometimes it can feel that you are asked to do conflict of interest disclosures everywhere you turn. Whether it’s research related, required by your entity, or part of a relationship with an outside company, everyone asks for different information in different formats and for different timeframes. We know it can be frustrating! Recent news has reminded us how important it is to accurately disclose all financial relationships and interests in all of the places you are required to do so.

    It is imperative that you keep your MedStar conflict of interest disclosures up to date. Additionally, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have accurately and consistently disclosed financial interests when you publish or present research. Individuals who completed the FY19 disclosure before July 1, 2019 must now go into the system to certify that the information entered previously is accurate for the entire fiscal year, or update as needed. The instructions for certifying your disclosure or revising the disclosure as needed are available here. As a researcher, the FY 2020 questionnaire is available for you to complete between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

    Do you have a question about your conflict of interest obligations at MedStar? We can help! Questions about the conflict of interest process, disclosures, and requirements for research can be addressed by the Research Compliance Program at Questions about the MedStar conflict of interest process outside of the research context can be addressed by your entity compliance officer.

  • October 03, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health Research Institute regularly updates, revises and creates new policies for the operational efficiency of MHRI. This month, the following policies were established or updated.

    MedStar Health Introduces New Personal Use of Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace Policy
    HR 306 – Drug & Alcohol-Free Workplace

    You can find all Human Resources policies on the myHR portal, under Tools & Resources > HR Policies.

    New MHRI Policies
    IAC.O-004: Reporting Animal Welfare Concerns
    ORG.O-003: Individual Conflicts of Interests/Conflicts of Commitments in Research

    New MHRI Procedures
    IAC.O.004.01: Investigating and Reviewing Animal Welfare Concerns
    IAC.O-003.01: Post-Approval Monitoring Procedure
    ORG.O-003.01: Research Conflict of Interest Committee
    ORG.O-003.02: Research Conflict of Interest Disclosure
    ORG.O-003.03: Research Conflict of Interest Non Compliance

    All MHRI policies and procedures can be found on MHRI’s StarPort Policies Portal.

  • October 02, 2019

    By Jason Chang, MD

    As a physician, one of the most rewarding experiences for me is to see our trauma patients recover from their complex injuries. Fortunately, this happens often at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, thanks to the amazing work of our MedSTAR Trauma, neurosurgery, and intensive care teams. At the same time, however, we still need to understand more about treating a specific type of patient--those who have suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). These complex injuries can lead to a wide range of immediate and long-term problems both for the brain and for other organs of the body, and it is still difficult to accurately predict the effect on a patient’s quality of life.

    That’s why we are so excited about the new BOOST-3 clinical trial. Through this randomized, multi-center study, we are trying to better understand how to monitor and treat TBI for both immediate survival and long-term health.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2.5 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. While some TBIs are mild, others are considered severe, causing slurred speech, profound confusion, and loss of consciousness that can last from minutes to weeks. Severe TBI contributes to 30 percent of all injury-related deaths, and many who suffer a TBI experience long-term disabilities.

    Through BOOST-3, we hope to learn more about reducing deaths and improving overall outcomes.

    What is Traumatic Brain Injury and How Does BOOST-3 Work?

    The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines TBI as “a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” Imaging, such as a CT Scan or an MRI, is used to confirm trauma to the brain. Among the patients who come to the MedSTAR Trauma Center with a TBI, the most common causes are accidents involving vehicles (cars, motorcycles, or bicycles), falls, sports injuries, and violence—either gunshots or other assaults.

    One constant among all severe TBI patients is brain swelling, the body’s natural reaction to injury. This swelling increases the pressure inside the skull, and our first step is to surgically create an opening in the skull to relieve the pressure. We then continuously monitor this “intracranial pressure,” and use medication to keep it under control while the patient’s brain stabilizes and heals.

    Until now, this was considered the gold standard for treating TBI patients. But recent clinical trials have shown that another factor may also need our attention: brain tissue oxygenation.

    The brain has very limited levels of oxygen reserves and it must have a continuous flow of oxygen-rich blood to function. A TBI can disrupt this flow, which can lead to additional brain damage.

    Through the BOOST-3 Trial, we will be able to compare the results of two different ways of treating patients with TBI. We will monitor the pressure and brain oxygenation in all patients but will randomize them into two groups for treatment. One group will receive the traditional care for intracranial pressure and the other will receive treatments for both pressure and brain oxygenation. We will then follow each patient for six months, and researchers will compare certain functional and neurological outcomes between the two groups.

    We began our participation in BOOST-3 in April, and we are one of 45 clinical sites across the country involved in this important study. The goal is to enroll nearly 1,100 patients nationally over the next five years.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center is participating as part of our involvement with SIREN (Strategies to Innovate Emergency Care Clinical Trials Network). Funded by the National Institutes of Health, SIREN is focused on improving outcomes for patients who suffer a wide range of critical injuries. The goal of SIREN’s research studies is to identify the most effective treatments in the earliest stage of care.

    This kind of study requires a high degree of teamwork among the members of the trauma team, neurosurgeons, intensivists (physicians who specialize in treating patients in critical care), and our highly skilled nurses. At the Hospital Center, we can attribute much of our trauma and critical care success throughout the years to our strong commitment to working together as a team, rather than in siloes, for the best possible patient care. This has become our hallmark, making it possible to participate in studies such as BOOST-3.

    If you are interested in learning more about this research study, please call 202-877-7259 or email me at or our clinical study coordinator Jamal Smith at