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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, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    MedStar Health is proud to be participating in The Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR) course established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The program provides training in designing a successful clinical trial by focusing on biostatistical and epidemiologic methods, study design, protocol preparation, patient monitoring, quality assurance, ethical and legal issues, and much more. Other areas covered include data management and ethical issues, including protection of human subjects. This course will be of interest to resident and fellow physicians, as well as junior level faculty, wishing to enhance their understanding and expertise in clinical research.

    The course will be conducted entirely online in a self-paced format. However, it is recommended that participants view 1 to 2 lectures per week to give themselves ample time to understand the theoretical and practical aspects of the content and to prepare for the final examination. The course is comprised of approximately 40 lectures, and participants should plan approximately 50 hours to watch the video-archived lectures, and additional time for course readings, discussion board participation, and the online multiple choice final examination. 

    This course is being offered as a certificate program. Registration is required in order for you to be eligible to take the examination and receive certification. You must receive a grade of 75% to receive a certificate of completion. The final exam will be available on the course website starting November 15th and closing on June 30th.

    The course textbook, Principles and Practice of Clinical Research, Fourth Edition, will be provided to all residents and fellows via their local GME office who register for the course. Residents and fellows who complete the course and receive certification may keep the textbook. Those who do not complete the course certification must return the book to the GME office or reimburse the cost of $125 per book.

    Course Objectives

    • Provide an overview of basic biostatistical and epidemiologic methods involved in conducting clinical research
    • Describe the principles involved in the ethical, legal, and regulatory issues in clinical human subjects research, including the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
    • Describe principles and issues involved in monitoring patient-oriented research
    • Describe the infrastructure required in performing clinical research and the steps involved in developing and funding research studies

    The 2018-2019 Course Schedule, Syllabus, and additional information is available online:

    If you are interested in registering, please visit this website (you are registering as a remote site participant):

    1. For organization please chose: MedStar Health, Department of Graduate Medical Education/Columbia, Maryland
    2. If asked for a title, or in the “other” field, please specify: resident, fellow, or faculty
  • October 04, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    An analysis led by MedStar researchers to evaluate two options for Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) was recently published in Circulation. The study, “Hemodynamic and Echocardiographic Comparison of the Lotus and CoreValve Transcatheter Aortic Valves in Patients With High and Extreme Surgical Risk: An Analysis From the REPRISE III Randomized Controlled Trial,” compared the valve hemodynamics and the impact on outcomes for patients who were part of the REPRISE III clinical trial after one year.

    Federico M. Asch, MD from MedStar Cardiovascular Research Network and the MedStar Health Research Institute was the lead author on the paper which was done in collaboration with researchers from Piedmont Marcus Heart Valve Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Luke’s Medical Center, DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, Boston Scientific Corporation, and Northshore University Health System.

    The REPRISE III (Repositionable Percutaneous Replacement of Stenotic Aortic Valve through Implantation of Lotus Valve System – Randomized Clinical Evaluation) study is a multicenter, randomized clinical trial evaluating two transcatheter aortic valve replacement devices, the mechanically expanded Lotus and the self-expanding CoreValve. The Lotus Valve System is a mechanically expanded, fully repositionable and retrievable valve. The CoreValve is a self-expanding valve.

    The primary effectiveness endpoint for the trial was the composite one-year rate of all-cause mortality, disabling stroke, and moderate or greater paravalvular aortic regurgitation (blood flowing between the structure of the implanted valve and cardiac tissue as a result of a lack of appropriate sealing) based on core laboratory assessment by the Cardiovascular Core Laboratories at the MedStar Health Research Institute.

    The study enrolled 912 patients who were considered high or extreme surgical risk. The patients were evaluated at four points in the first-year after the procedure, with plans for annual follow-up over an additional four years.

    The study did find that the Lotus had significantly greater freedom from moderate or severe paravalvular leak and smaller valve area and higher gradients than CoreValve. The CoreValve did have a better hemodynamic profile, though the study concluded that both valves were favorable. The study found no statistically significant differences between the two groups in any of the clinical baseline characteristics. The hemodynamic differences between the two valves did not translate into worse clinical outcomes.

    Dr. Asch is Director of the Echocardiography Core Lab at MedStar Health Research Institute and Associate Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Georgetown University. 

    Circulation, 2018. DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.034129

  • October 04, 2018

    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 November 28. 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. 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, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    In the course of your research, have you thought of a new invention that could assist with patient care? Part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation, MedStar Inventor Services is here to help you develop your invention. They can help to transform ideas into commercial products through each stage of the INVENT process, from concept to market.

    Join them on Thursday, October 18, at the MIND Lab in the MedStar Health Columbia Corporate Office for two special events.

    Lunch & Learn

    12 noon to 1 pm

    How a MedStar doc’s idea about knee angles took a turn: What you KNEEd to know about FitSense and MedStar Inventor Services

    Rarely would you allow an entrepreneur, MBA-type to operate on your knee (or any other body part for that matter), just like we'd rarely advise an orthopedic surgeon to run a company. MedStar Health’s Dr. Carter Mitchell just might be the exception to the rule.

    Dr. Mitchell is also the Founder and CEO of Fitsense, Inc., a start-up company developing the Pinnacle, a wearable sensor that transmits knee angles to a smartphone or another device. Particular knee angles leave the joint susceptible to an ACL tear. With proper training and guidance, Pinnacle will help athletes learn to avoid these risky movements.

    Join us as Dr. Mitchell teaches us about wearable technology and the future of injury prevention and rehabilitation. You’ll also learn how Dr. Mitchell collaborated with the MedStar Institute for Innovation and its Inventor Services team to turn his idea into a reality and meet MedStar leaders who can help those with similar aspirations to innovate.

    Carter Mitchell, MD
    Director of Sports Medicine, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center
    Founder and CEO, FitSense Inc.

    Office Hours with MedStar Inventor Services

    9 am to Noon & 1 to 3 pm

    The MIND Lab occasionally offers “open office hours.” Stop by anytime (no appointments required) to meet subject matter experts and explore new ideas.

    The MedStar Inventor Services team works hand-in-hand with MedStar associates to transform your innovative ideas and discoveries into commercial products and services that advance health and improve the patient and family experience. Having good ideas is only one part of developing a product. MedStar Inventor Services will help you determine if your idea does not already exist, bring in experts to evaluate the clinical need, assess the market for the product, get it through the burdensome patent process, negotiate the terms of the license, and monitor the agreement to make sure the licensee delivers. All of this is at no cost to you AND if your product makes it to market you get 50% of revenue after expenses are recouped.

    Steve Kinsey & Marck Clerveau
    MedStar Inventor Services, MedStar Institute for Innovation

  • October 04, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    The MedStar Diabetes Institute was one of many groups that attended the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes on the Mall in Washington, D.C., in September.

    Every 21 seconds, someone is told that they have diabetes. The walk, hosted by the American Diabetes Association, funds critical research, advances advocacy and helps to grow programs like Diabetes Camp and the Living With Type 2 Program. The team raised $9,000 and counting for the cause.

    The team included associates from the MedStar Diabetes Institute, MedStar Health Research Institute, patients at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and members of the local American Diabetes Association Chapter. Thank you to all who donated to support the team.

  • October 04, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in September 2018. 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. Affordable Care Act's Medicaid Expansion on Use of Regionalized Surgery at High-Volume Hospitals.
      Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2018.08.693
      McDermott J, Zeymo A, Chan K, Ehsan A, Crocker A, Xiao D, Ahluwalia JS, DeLeire T, Shara N, Al-Refaie W.
    1. Quality of Life of Persons Living with HIV and Congruence with Surrogate Decision-Makers.
      Springer International Publishing, 2018. DOI:10.1007/s11136-018-2002-5
      Curtin KB, Cheng YI, Wang J, Scott RK, Squires L, Benator DA, Lyon ME; Palliative Care Consortiums.
    1. Identifying Health Information Technology Related Safety Event Reports from Patient Safety Event Report Databases.
      Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 2018. DOI:10.1016/j.jbi.2018.09.007
      Fong A, Adams KT, Gaunt MJ, Howe JL, Kellogg K, Ratwani RM.
    1. Pigmentation Diathesis of Hypertrophic Scar: An Examination of Known Signaling Pathways to Elucidate the Molecular Pathophysiology of Injury-Related Dyschromia.
      Journal of Burn Care & Research, 2018. DOI:10.1093/jbcr/iry045
      Carney BC, Chen JH, Luker JN, Alkhalil A, Jo DY, Travis TE, Moffatt LT, Simbulan-Rosenthal CM, Rosenthal DS, Shupp JW.
    1. Association of Low-Moderate Urine Arsenic and QT Interval: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Evidence from the Strong Heart Study.
      Environmental Pollution, 2018. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2018.04.129
      Moon KA, Zhang Y, Guallar E, Francesconi KA, Goessler W, Umans JG, Best LG, Howard BV, Devereux RB, Okin PM, Navas-Acien A.