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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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  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    You are invited to AWARE for All – Baltimore,MD where local community members, patients, and research professionals will come together to learn about clinical research, get free health screenings, and hear from physician and patient speakers.

    AWARE for All is a free educational program that provides valuable information and resources on the clinical research process to help people make informed decisions about participation. The event serves as a platform for dialogue between local patients, members of the public, and research professionals. This program is made possible by the incredible community partners we collaborate with in every city.

    Wednesday, April 17
    5:00 pm– 8:00 pm

    Turner Auditorium
    Johns Hopkins
    720 Rutland Avenue
    Baltimore, MD 21205

    Visit the website for more information and to register

  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The Revised Common Rule went into effect on January 21, 2019. The Office of Research Integrity and MHRI leadership are working to ensure required changes to our policies and processes are made to comply with the new requirements. Here are some frequently asked questions about the common rule.

    What are the Key Changes and What Should I Expect?

    Exempt Research
    Some of the existing categories of exempt research have changed, while a few new ones have been added. For a few of the exempt categories, there will now be a limited Institutional Review Board (IRB) review required. Want more information about the new exemptions? A handout describing the changes is available here.

    Continuing Review
    Continuing review is no longer required for studies that meet the following conditions: (1) eligible for expedited review, (2) research that underwent “limited review”, and (3) research that has progressed and involves only data analysis and/or accessing follow up clinical data for standard of care procedures. Despite the elimination of the continuing review requirement, institutions have the flexibility to require an accounting of ongoing research.

    At MHRI, one final formal continuing review submission and approval will be required post 1/21/19 and after that, moving forward, the IRB will make a risk determination based on the nature of the protocol and history of review whether to require an additional check in for studies that fall into the above categories of review.

    Informed Consent
    Under the revised Common Rule, the informed consent document must provide information a reasonable person would want to have in order to make an informed decision. It must contain a concise and focused presentation of the key information that is most likely to assist a subject in understanding the reasons why one might or might not want to participate in the research. This portion of the informed consent document must be organized and presented in a way that facilitates comprehension. Certain specific statements must also be included in the Informed Consent Form (ICF) if you are working with identifiable private information or biospecimens.

    When submitting to the MHRI IRB, you should use the new informed consent templates available in the library section of the new eIRB system. Note, that in addition to the above common rule requirements, this new consent template also folds the HIPAA authorization into the consent form for a combined consent/HIPAA authorization. If you need access to a consent template and do not yet have a Huron login please contact ORI.

    Broad Consent
    The revised Common Rule provides a new voluntary option for consent for the storage/maintenance/future use of identifiable data and biospecimens. Currently, researchers have the options to obtain consent from subjects or ask the IRB for a consent waiver. Broad consent is now an additional consent option for these specific activities. Once implemented, the institution is required to keep track of any individual’s refusal to provide broad consent so that the IRB does not waive consent for that individual in the future.

    MHRI supports the concept behind the broad consent portions of the Common Rule revisions and will support a broad consent process once a technical infrastructure is implemented to track which individuals have been approached and whether they denied broad consent. Since the technical aspects of broad consent have not yet been addressed nationally or locally, MHRI has opted NOT to adopt the broad consent provisions. More information will follow once it is available.

    Single IRB Review
    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now requiring single IRB review for multi-site studies funded by the agency. The Common Rule revisions adopt a single IRB review requirement for multi-institutional research studies which mirrors the recent changes to the NIH policy. The Common Rule compliance date for single IRB review is January 2020. MHRI will be releasing information about single IRB review for multi-institutional studies funded by Common Rule agencies in the future.

    Any questions about the Common Rule changes? Contact

  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Abstract submissions for the annual MedStar Health—Georgetown University Research Symposium are now being accepted!

    All abstracts must be submitted through the Symposium Abstract Submission Portal. All MedStar physicians, nurses, researchers, staff and residents/fellows are encouraged to submit abstracts. Submissions close at 11:59 pm on Thursday, February 28. Please read carefully the submission instructions and detailed guidelines on the Abstract Submission Portal prior to submitting your abstract.

    This year, the GUMC’s Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE) will be hosting the Sixth Annual Colloquium for Educators in the Health Professions together with the MedStar Health—Georgetown University Research Symposium. The Colloquium is an opportunity for those across the system focused on education to gather, share ideas, and learn together.

    The Colloquium and the Research Symposium are open to all members of the research and education community interested in learning more about scholarship at MedStar and Georgetown.

    Please contact if you have any questions.

  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Research from MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied patient characteristics and predictors that may impact patient outcomes of changing the blood thinner medications that are used to prevent stroke, heart attack, and other heart problems. The study looked at the switching, either in-hospital or at discharge, from clopidogrel (CLO) to ticagrelor (TIC) or vice versa.       

    The goal of “The Impact of In-Hospital P2Y12 Inhibitor Switch in Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome” was to examine the patient characteristics, frequency, and in-hospital clinical outcomes associated with switching between the P2Y12 inhibitors. P2Y12 inhibitors are anti-platelet medications that reduce the risk of clotting in arteries.

    Published in Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, this study sought to evaluate the experience of patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) who undergo a non-surgical procedure to treat narrowing of the coronary arteries of the heart found in coronary artery disease. This procedure is most commonly known as percutaneous coronary intervention.

    The study identified 2837 patients with acute coronary syndrome who received drug-eluting stents and started dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT). The study population received either CLO or TIC and was divided into 4 groups based on initial DAPT choice and whether treatment was switched in-hospital or during discharge. There were no significant differences between the two switched groups, except prior history of coronary artery disease and hypertension.

    The study found several factors that would determine switching between P2Y12 inhibitors. Clinical needs determine if in-hospital switching occurs, and was found in approximately 9% of the acute coronary syndrome population with drug-eluting stents. Also, the ACS patient population may experience a need for in-hospital coronary artery bypass graft or oral anticoagulation upon discharge as a factor for switching. The costs of drug, adverse effects, bleeding, allergy to the medication, and physician preference are other potential reasons for switching medication.

    “Our study was underpowered to look at outcome events,” the study concluded. “Our findings could serve as hypothesis generation for larger studies with greater power.”

    The study team included Deepakraj Gajanana, MD; William S. Weintraub, MD; Paul Kolm, PhD; Micaela Iantorno, MD; Kyle D. Buchanan, MD; Itsik Ben-Dor, MD; Augusto D. Pichard, MD; Lowell F. Satler, MD; Vinod H. Thourani, MD; Rebecca Torguson, MPH; Petros G. Okubagzi, MD; Ron Waksman, MD and Toby Rogers, MD with the MedStar Cardiovascular Research Network, Section of Interventional Cardiology and Department of Cardiac Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Dr. Rogers is also affiliated with the National Institutes of Health.

    Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.carrev.2018.09.007

  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Barbara (Barb) Rector was awarded the SPIRIT of Excellence Award for the third quarter of 2018 during a presentation at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital. Barbara is a Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator for the Oncology Department at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. Nominated by Mahsa Mohebtash, MD, Medical Director, Franklin Square Cancer Center at Loch Raven, the award was presented by Mary Anne Hinkson, Vice President of Research Operations.

    Barb was recognized for her patient first approach and display of compassion to every patient she encounters. Her work is personal as she is a cancer survivor. She worked as a nurse in the oncology unit to help the cancer patient population and then joined the research program where she continues her efforts in supporting patients and their treatment options.

    “Barb is an incredible patient advocate” said Mahsa Mohebtash. “She is very enthusiastic to learn new knowledge and to integrate them in her daily work. She treats everybody equally and respectfully.”

    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. Nominations for the first quarter of 2019 are due by February 15.

    Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact

  • February 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Join more than 3,000 interventional and endovascular specialists at Cardiovascular Research Technologies Conference (CRT) 2018 for a comprehensive four-day interventional cardiology conference featuring cutting-edge data in a unique boutique setting.

    CRT is one of the world’s leading interventional cardiology conferences. This conference takes place in Washington, D.C., every year and gives attendees a great opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, collaborate on interventional cardiology solutions, receive interventional cardiology training and network with other professionals. At the 2018 meeting, CRT featured the first live complex coronary case performed entirely by women. That live case was one of 16, and future CRT meetings will feature more live cases.

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute supports CRT as a forum for physician and health care professional education about new cardiovascular technology and interventional procedures in the field. The meeting is actually several conferences at once, with tracks including CRT Valve & Structural, CRT Endovascular, Technology & Innovation, Atherosclerosis & Research, and Nurses & Technologists.

    This conference is a great opportunity to learn about the latest developments in your field, connect with colleagues, and earn CME credits.

    To learn more about the meeting as a whole, including the agendas, and to register, visit

    March 2-5, 2019
    The Omni Shoreham Hotel
    2500 Calvert Street NW
    Washington, D.C., 20008