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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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  • September 06, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    People make a difference in all walks of life. And that’s particularly true for Christy Kaiser, MD, an attending physician in Cardiology with MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The Kansas City, Mo., native credits an engaging, “larger than life” attending physician at Baylor University’s School of Medicine for sparking her interest in cardiology.

    "The heart and vascular system are very dynamic,” Dr. Kaiser explains. “His knack for breaking down the physiology of a disease helped me to reason through how the disease processes work, and why we use the treatments we do.”

    After completing an Internal Medicine residency at Duke University, Dr. Kaiser came to Washington for her cardiology fellowship at the Hospital Center/MedStar Georgetown University Hospital program. She says the opportunity to join the faculty following completion of the fellowship was appealing on many levels, including the opportunity to treat a wide variety of patients and pathologies, as well as to keep up with advancements in echocardiography and new percutaneous treatments, such as options for valve repair.

    The Joy of Teaching

    Serving as associate program director of the Hospital Center/MedStar Georgetown Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program also adds a teaching aspect that Dr. Kaiser particularly enjoys. She designed and implemented a two-day “bootcamp” for new cardiology fellows, who use simulation to become familiar with specific conditions and procedures. Dr. Kaiser also established an international elective for MedStar cardiology fellows to deliver health care at a teaching hospital in León, Nicaragua, and developed online teaching modules to help residents get a strong head start on their cardiovascular ICU rotations.

    Dr. Kaiser hopes she can be a role model delivering high-quality clinical care, while building a strong partnership with patients based on mutual trust and respect.

    “Setting a positive example is also particularly important for female trainees,” she says, “as women currently make up only about a quarter of cardiologists.”

    Outside of Work

    A willingness to learn extends to Dr. Kaiser’s personal life as well. Proficient in Spanish and French, she enjoys learning dances from salsa to hip-hop, cooking, and travel with friends.

  • September 03, 2019

    By Patrick T. Bering, MD

    About 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year—and younger women account for nearly one-third of them, according to a study published in the journal Circulation that explored incidents of cardiac arrest among younger adults.

    This alarming trend is also something we can confirm in Washington, D.C., One reason we think we’re seeing more younger women (between the ages of 35 and 55) experience heart attacks is their increase in cardiovascular risk factors, such as:

    While young men also can experience heart attacks, this trend is developing in young women at a much higher rate. Aside from women possibly having more of the traditional risk factors, conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries), premature menopause, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) also might be increasing their risk. Let’s discuss what women can do to prevent heart disease, as well as when it’s time to see a doctor.

    LISTEN: Dr. Bering discusses the rise in heart attacks among younger women in the Medical Intel podcast.

    Ways to Prevent Heart Attacks

    Younger people can help avoid heart attacks by making lifestyle modifications that prevent the development of heart disease risk factors. The lifestyle modifications I recommend the most include:

    • Consume a healthy diet: The Mediterranean diet is one of the most effective and research-tested diets you can eat. Learn about the Mediterranean diet and what it consists of.
    • Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is great for the heart, as it helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure and good cholesterol levels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
    • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese is associated with significantly increased heart disease risk. By following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you put yourself in the best situation to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
    • Manage stress: Stress can lead to inflammation in the body, which can increase heart disease risk, among other health concerns, such as cancer and abnormal memory loss. Make sure you speak to a primary care doctor or psychiatrist for help coping with stress.
    • Get a good night's sleep: Getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night is associated with increased heart health, compared to people who get less than six hours.

    Young people often have no known medical problems and feel that they’re considerably healthy. However, some risk factors for heart disease are silent. For example, many people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms and are diagnosed with it later in life. Annual checkups with your primary care doctor are an important way to ensure that you’re maintaining a healthy heart and not developing heart disease risk factors. These checkups may be the most successful strategy in combating heart disease.

    Signs That It’s Time to See a Doctor

    Aside from annual checkups with your doctor, you should immediately seek medical attention if you experience key warning signs of a heart attack—especially if you have a family history of heart disease or risk factors. These can include:

    • Decreased energy
    • Heartburn or acid reflux that doesn’t improve with simple treatments such as antacids
    • Intractable nausea, or vomiting that’s difficult to control
    • Significant shortness of breath

    We saw one young woman who initially thought she was experiencing symptoms of acid reflux—but we identified that it was actually an early symptom of a heart attack. Through surgery, I was able to open up a blocked blood vessel that was in charge of supplying blood to her heart. She ended up returning home with minimal heart damage and continues to do well today. Had she not visited the hospital with her symptoms, she could have experienced a heart attack and a much worse outcome.

    Symptoms of a #heartattack can seem like everyday conditions, such as #acidreflux. But seeing a doctor, especially when you have #heartdisease risk factors or a family history, is important and can save you from having a heart attack. via @MedStarWHC
    Click to Tweet

    Expert Care at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

    We’re proud to care for the Washington, D.C., community at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center with passionate healthcare providers who focus on a variety of issues related to your cardiovascular health. We have expert doctors in both primary care and cardiology who work together to prevent and treat heart disease. All of the care we offer is patient-centered, meaning every care decision we make is made together with the patient.

    As the number of young women experiencing heart attacks increases, it’s important that women adhere to lifestyles that help ensure they don’t develop one of the many risk factors for heart disease. Make sure to speak to a doctor if you have any questions about reducing your heart disease risk.

    Annual checkups can help prevent heart disease. Call 202-877-3627 or click below to request an appointment with a cardiologist.

    Request an Appointment

  • August 29, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Research from MedStar Institute for Innovation and the MedStar Lafayette Centre Internal Medicine used three Teaching Kitchen (TK) Shared Medical Appointment (SMA) programs to improve patients culinary and lifestyle skills in an effort to improve health habits. In 2017, Fresh and Savory, a Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine Teaching Kitchen program was implemented at MedStar Health as a Shared Medical Appointment. Alongside the portable Teaching Kitchen were physician consultations, interactive didactic presentations, nutritious cooking, and mind-body exercises.

    The research was published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The research team was led by Renee Kakareka, BS, and included Theresa A. Stone, MD, FACP; Paul Plsek, MS; Anthony Imamura, BEnvD, AOS-Culinary Arts; and Ellie Hwang, MHA.

    In the United States, 100 million people are overweight or obese. The study referenced that “about 80% of coronary heart disease, 90% of type 2 diabetes, and 33% of cancers, can be reversed or prevented with healthy lifestyle interventions (exercise, healthful eating habits, and smoking cessation).” MedStar researchers saw an opportunity to test the use of culinary and lifestyle medicine program to teach patients evidence-based lifestyle skills to determine if they reduce primary and secondary cardiovascular disease risk.

    Two cohorts were recruited from Internal Medicine and Cardiology and completed an 8-week program. One sports performance cohort was recruited which included young, elite athletes completing a 4-week program. The Internal Medicine and Cardiology program included eight, two-hour sessions consisting of mind-body exercise and both didactic presentations and hands-on activities. The Sports Performance program consisted of four, two-hour sessions following a similar format as Internal Medicine/Cardiology but focused on an athlete’s nutrition and lifestyle.

    Each week vitals (blood pressure, weight, heart rate) were collected. The physician and patient would then discuss the patient’s goals, progress, medications, and other medically relevant information during the two-hour session. One of the Internal Medicine/Cardiology cohorts were emailed electronic surveys which inquired about lifestyle behaviors over the past month at baseline and 7 days each week. The other Internal Medicine/Cardiology cohort and Sports Performance group filled out paper booklets, “Passports”, each week recording their goals, program feedback, and lecture notes.

    There were 53 patients that participated in the three Teaching Kitchen SMA programs. During the program, the research team noted that change in patient vitals were statically insignificant, yet habit changes showed clinical significance. Patients noted increased knowledge of plant-based meals, importance of sleep, and adding mindfulness and exercise to their weekly routine.

    In conclusion, the research proved patient demand for opportunities to develop healthy behaviors. Although, vital signs may not significantly improve, small habit changes may improve long-term health outcomes. Future studies will seek to correlate the influence of Teaching Kitchen Shared Medical Appointment programs and long-term behavior changes.

    The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2019. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2019.009

  • August 29, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Allison Selman-Lovell was awarded the SPIRIT of Excellence Award for the second quarter of 2019 at a presentation at University Town Center (UTC) offices. Allison is the Program Lead for Research & Education Initiatives for MedStar Health Research Institute. Nominated by Eva Hochberger, Manager, Research Development, Planning and Communications, the award was presented by Neil Weissman, Chief Science Officer, MedStar Health and President, MedStar Health Research Institute.

    Jamie Padmore, Vice President Academic Affairs, MedStar Health, has been working with Allison for years and said, “I knew right away I needed to latch on to her.  It’s not about what you do but who you are.” Allison was recognized for her outstanding spirit to her colleagues and anyone she comes across at MedStar and Georgetown.  Everyone had such wonderful remarks to say about Allison:

    • She’s such a great team player and treats everyone, from medical students to PIs to senior leadership, with natural integrity that is focused on solving problems.”
    • Allison is one of MHRI’s greatest assets”
    • Allison works so hard for our faculty and learners to make sure that their educational programs are of the highest quality, thus contributing to the ongoing education of our superb faculty.”
    • She provides exceptional service, ensuring each interaction with faculty, scholars, and collaborators is positive and effective.”

    Allison’s dedication and reliability are unmatched. We’re so fortunate to celebrate Allison for this award.  She’s more than deserving!

    The SPIRIT Award is given to recognize and reward one associate (management or non-management) each quarter, who excels in Service, Patient First, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork. Nomination submissions for the third quarter of 2017 are due by August 15. Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact

  • August 29, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Mark your calendars now for Monday, April 6, 2020 for the 2020 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium. Join investigators, residents, and associates from across our community at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. This annual event supports our continuous effort to become a leading academic health system, while celebrating innovation, inspiration and investment in research and academics.

    The Research Symposium showcases the diverse and wide-ranging research activities of across the MedStar-Georgetown community. More than 1,000 guests attended this year’s event, which featured 400 abstracts and highlighted our unique partnership with Georgetown University in building a collaborative academic community.

    The 2020 Research Symposium is a full-day event, beginning with presentations from educators in the health professions, followed by educational sessions hosted by experts from MedStar and Georgetown University. Resident oral presentations, scientific poster presentations and speakers take place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the main ballroom.

    From bench to bedside and into the community, our research and education efforts provide valuable insight into how we move forward in healthcare and provide better and more effective treatments.

    Details on abstract submissions and registration are coming soon. To learn more, visit

  • August 29, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Every year, the Innovation Center for Biomedical Informatics (ICBI) hosts The Annual Health Informatics & Data Science Symposium at Georgetown University. This symposium showcases exciting advances in the areas of molecular medicine, health data analytics, AI to advance health and related state-of-the-art technologies. The free, one-day event includes talks by academic, industry, and government leaders in clinical and translational sciences who will highlight applications of informatics science and tools to advance precision medicine. The symposium brings together a dynamic community of innovators, research scientists, clinicians, program managers, educators, and students to exchange ideas and learn new methodologies. This event also offers an opportunity to network and socialize with colleagues during the evening reception and poster session.

    This year's symposium will include sessions on the practicing responsible and ethical AI to advance health, liberating health data for precision research, Genomics driven health, Next Generation Data Commons, Educating the Next Generation of Health Data Scientists, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies in healthcare.

    The deadline for abstract submission September 5, 2019.

    View Agenda
    Register Here

    Georgetown Conference Center
    3800 Reservoir Rd NW

    Washington, District of Columbia 20007