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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:
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    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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  • August 08, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    For longtime migraine sufferers, you’ve probably tried every over-the-counter (OTC) medication to find something that works for you. The World Health Organization states that almost everyone experiences headaches, and almost 40 million Americans suffer with migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. If you’ve just started experiencing migraines or you’re still searching for relief, I’ll share several effective ways to alleviate migraines.

    What’s the Difference Between Headaches and Migraines?

    To relieve your pain, you should understand how headaches and migraines differ from one another. A headache is just that, an ache in the head. It occurs any time you experience pain in the body from the neck up. There are actually hundreds of types of headaches. The key in distinguishing a certain type of headache from another is to determine your symptoms or level of discomfort.

    The two most common types of headaches are tension-type headaches and episodic tension headaches. They can occur for a number of reasons, such as stress or hunger. In fact, about 96 percent of our population has experienced tension type headaches at some point in their lives. It either goes away on its own or after you’ve taken an OTC medication. If what you consider a regular tension headache actually intensifies and begins to disrupt your daily routine, you may be having a migraine.

    Migraine is a lifelong brain disease that can cause episodes of disability. It is a more severe headache that comes with other symptoms, and while migraines often occur on one side of the head, they also can happen on both sides. They get worse when you move around or if you are in a room with bright lights, loud sounds, or strong smells.

    In addition to pain, you can have an upset stomach, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and a number of other symptoms, including dizziness, trouble concentrating, and irritability. If left untreated, a migraine can last up to three days. It can be so severe that it interrupts your day-to-day life or causes you to miss out on important events. Often, migraine sufferers retreat to a quiet, dark room to rest and close themselves off from interacting with other people. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Migraines affect about 16 percent of women and 8 percent of men in the US, and are probably the most common headache type after episodic tension headaches.

    Concerned about chronic headaches or migraines? Click below to request an appointment with an expert in St. Mary's County.

    Request an Appointment

    How to Get Relief from Headaches and Migraines

    The good news is that it’s possible to find relief. Whether you’re struggling with a tension headache or a moderate to severe migraine, there is a plethora of natural methods and accessible medications to consider. Depending on the severity of your headache, certain methods will be more effective than others. If you usually suffer with mild or gradual onset tension headaches that do not become severe over time, I recommend these natural and topical treatments:

    • Apply an ice pack, heat pack, or mentholated cream or balm to the affected area
    • Drink chilled water and stay hydrated
    • Remove yourself from a stressful situation by taking a break or going for a walk
    • Sleep or rest, if you’re able to do so
    • Take deep breaths for relaxation
    • Use a diffuser with lavender essential oil

    If your headache becomes more intense or if you experience a migraine, consider adding a medicine with one of the following ingredients:

    • Acetaminophen
    • Aspirin
    • Ibuprofen
    • Naproxen
    • Salicylic acid

    It’s always best to use medicines according to the directions on the label. Consult with your doctor before taking them, especially if you’re already using prescription drugs for a different condition. If these treatments don’t work or you end up using them more than twice a week, you should see your primary care doctor to discuss a more targeted therapy.

    When should you see a doctor about your headaches?

    There are effective prescription medications available for the prevention and treatment of acute migraine attacks. It’s important to treat the headache as soon as it starts and get symptoms under control. Speak to your primary care provider, or consider seeing a neurologist to discuss prescription medications for your acute attacks. If you are having four or more migraines per month, I recommend asking your doctor about a preventative option that reduces the frequency of the headaches so they don’t significantly impact your quality of life.

    For those with pre-existing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cancer, it’s imperative that you talk with your doctor about your headaches. Certain headache symptoms may be related to pre-existing conditions. For example, if you are diabetic or have high blood pressure, this could lead to more frequent headaches or migraines.

    If you begin to experience headaches randomly or more frequently than normal, discuss those symptoms with your doctor. In addition, be sure to disclose all of the medications you are taking with your doctor. He or she will ensure your medications do not interfere with each other or lead to adverse side effects.

    You don’t have to suffer in silence or in the solitude of a cold, dark room away from those you love. If you’ve tried natural treatments or medications to little or no avail, know there are ways to combat the symptoms and relieve the pain more quickly. As always, consider your doctor as a trusted resource to help find a treatment that works for you.

    Concerned about chronic headaches or migraines? Click below to request an appointment with an expert in St. Mary's County.

    Request an Appointment

  • August 07, 2018

    By Vadim V. Morozov, MD

    Imagine feeling one or more of these symptoms in your pelvic area up to 95 percent of the time:

    • Burning
    • Pinching
    • Stabbing

    That’s the reality for women with chronic pelvic pain, which can be constant or can arise during sex or when using the bathroom. To be considered chronic pelvic pain, symptoms must last at least six months. And often, symptoms aren’t limited to the pelvic area. Patients experiencing pelvic pain commonly experience shortness of breath or feel the pain go down their back or legs, or shooting into the stomach or buttocks. Imagine the effect this can have on a woman’s time at work or missed opportunities with family and friends!

    In many cases, it can be difficult for patients and doctors to pinpoint the location of the pain and its specific cause. Even more frustrating for women is that chronic pelvic pain can be a condition in its own right or a symptom of another disease, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids, which are compact tumors in the uterus.

    However, treatment is available to make symptoms more manageable. At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, women can access multiple specialists who focus solely on the treatment of chronic pelvic pain, including urogynecologists and a urologist who specializes in women's health. Our goal is the same as our patients’: to help women get back to living their lives with less pain.

    LISTEN: Dr. Vadim Morozov discusses chronic pelvic pain treatment in the Medical Intel podcast.

    Who is most at risk for chronic pelvic pain?

    Those who are most at risk for chronic pelvic pain include women who are:

    • African-American: Women with African-American ancestry are three-times more likely than Caucasian women to have fibroids, which can cause pelvic pain.
    • Women who have a family history of endometriosis or fibroids: These conditions are among the common causes of pelvic pain. If they run in your family, you have a much higher risk of developing chronic pelvic pain.

    Currently, there is no genetic testing to help determine a patient’s risk of chronic pelvic pain. An interesting phenomenon is that you could have endometriosis or uterine fibroids and not have pelvic pain, or you could have pelvic pain and have a very mild condition that causes it. There is no direct correlation between severity one way or the other, which means diagnosis and treatment must be personalized to each patient.

    Some studies suggest that environmental factors are associated with chronic pelvic pain, such as being exposed to organa pollutants, or organophosphorus, which are found in some sunscreens. I’m not saying don’t use sunscreen, but be cognizant about the products you choose.

    What treatments are available?

    To treat chronic pelvic pain, we must first identify the cause. If we can identify that it’s a symptom of another pelvic condition, we might start with a non-steroid anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as ibuprofen. We also might recommend physical therapy, which can help with some types of chronic pelvic pain.

    If medication or physical therapy aren’t enough to relieve a patient’s symptoms, the next step is minimally invasive surgery, in which we make tiny incisions that are less than an inch long in the stomach and one in the belly button in order to detect and remove fibroids or endometriosis. Patients go home the same day within two to four hours and experience very little blood loss.

    It’s important to treat chronic pelvic pain, because its symptoms can have a negative effect on a person’s time with family and friends, via @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    What happens after surgery?

    Unfortunately, treating the root cause of pelvic pain doesn’t always reduce the pain enough. Women may need additional follow-up care, such as:

    • Hormonal fluctuation suppression
    • Physical therapy for pelvic pain
    • Central sensitization treatment: when a woman’s central nervous system becomes immune to the pelvic pain and it isn’t going away.

    Regardless of the chosen treatment method, many women still experience pelvic pain. To address this problem, we use a multi-specialty approach to get patients to a level at which they can function comfortably. Some of these specialists include pelvic physical therapists, gastroenterologists, urologists, and interventional radiologists. For example, the worst endometriosis is called stage 4 endometriosis. We have treated women with this condition through minimally invasive surgery in which we removed the endometriosis. Many of these women now experience limited pain and feel functional on a daily basis.

    Advancements in pelvic pain care

    There is fascinating research being done right now in which researchers are testing women’s RNA fragments through blood or saliva samples. The idea is that if we can analyze and sort the fragments of RNA, which is nucleic acid in your blood, we can find out whether someone’s pelvic pain is due to endometriosis. This would allow us to make more diagnoses without surgery.

    If RNA testing proves to be valid, it also could allow us to determine a patient’s progress after surgery. For example, a woman could be tested six months to a year after treatment to see if her endometriosis was still cured without us having to operate again.

    You don’t have to live with chronic pelvic pain. Schedule an appointment with a doctor to determine what’s causing your chronic pelvic pain and how to treat it, so you can get back to your everyday life.


    Call 202-877-3627 or click below to make an appointment with a gynecologic specialist.

    Request an Appointment

  • July 31, 2018

    By Joan Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE

    A guest post from Joan K Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, Assistant Vice President of Nursing and Research Integration at the MedStar Health Research Institute.

    Those of us who work in the area of diabetes know the challenges of diabetes care. Keeping overall blood glucose levels within a target range, as measured by a test called A1c, can help to prevent complications and enhance overall well being. The goal of most people with diabetes is to keep the A1C <7%. Yet, we know that less than 53% of US adults with diabetes have A1C <7% and more than 15% have an A1C >9%.

    Diabetes Self Management Education and Support (DMSES) have been shown to effectively help with management of diabetes, yet fewer than 7% of those with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes with private insurance participate in DSMES within 12 months of their diagnosis. Only 8.14% of Medicare beneficiaries with newly diagnosed diabetes use DSMES services at least once within 6 months of diagnosis.

    There is also evidence that failure to initiate or intensify therapy despite suboptimal glucose control is common and that there is a lack of timely advancement of the diabetes medication regimen.

    So with this sub-optimal diabetes care environment in mind, what can be done to change the outcomes of patients with type 2 diabetes?

    The MedStar Diabetes Institute Team, lead by Michelle Magee, MD and supported by Gretchen Youssef, MS, RD, CDE, and Carine Nassar, MS, RD, CDE, developed the MedStar Diabetes Boot Camp to tackle this problem within the MedStar Health system. They reported on the program design and outcomes at a dedicated symposium session at the American Diabetes Association’s 78th Scientific Sessions (2018) in Orlando, Florida on June 22, 2018. To say this was well received by the audience would be an understatement!

    The symposium session audience at ADA showed great interest in this program and attendees lined up at the microphones to congratulate the speakers on the presentation and ask pertinent questions about implementation, system support, and future plans. MedStar Health and MHRI were well represented as being at the forefront of translating diabetes research into successful direct patient care.

    How does it work?

    The Boot Camp is a 13-week program that targets high risk, high-cost patients (A1C of >/9, ED or hospitalization with uncontrolled diabetes) who are cared for within our system. These patients are referred to the Boot Camp through a 1-click order in our EMR.

    The program starts with of 2 in-person initial visits with a Boot Camp Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to establish a relationship for patient engagement, complete assessment, and provide education on the use of a smart blood glucose meter which automatically sends data to the Boot Camp dashboard. The patients receive survival skills education as well as medication management during those visits, with the program’s Nurse Practitioners (NP) signing off on medication changes. The patients then graduates to virtual visits via a communication hub where NP CDEs monitor uploaded blood glucose numbers, make medication changes and adjustments, and provide additional education as needed. At the end of the Boot Camp, patients are referred to their PCP with a detailed letter indicating current BG average and A1C, current diabetes medications and need for additional referrals if any (such as to podiatry or eye clinic).

    Is it making a difference? The numbers speak for themselves!

    To date, a total of 366 patients have completed the boot camp with an end of intervention A1c available. When compared to matched controls, the boot camp participants showed a 3-month A1c drop of 3.06% vs a 1.44% for the controls. In addition, the overall risk for acute care utilization decreased by 51%, the risk for inpatient admissions decreased by 77% and the risk for ED visits decreased by 38%.

    What’s next?

    The patients are followed after they complete the Boot Camp to see if improvements in glycemic and utilization outcomes are sustained over time. Early results show that while a majority of patients retain most of the improved outcomes, some backslide and need additional intervention. Therefore, sustaining strategies are being tested. Based on these positive results, MedStar Health has tasked Dr. Magee and her team with expanding the Boot Camp to additional locations throughout the system.

  • July 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Registration is now open for MedStar Health’s Fall 2018 Continuing Education conferences. Organized by the Department of Continuing Professional Education, these year-round learning events provide an opportunity for clinical associates to gain knowledge of new treatments and techniques, connect with renowned leaders in their fields, and earn CE credits. Discounted registration for MedStar associates is available.

    For more information about these and other events, and to stay up to date, please visit

    Culturally Competent LGBTQIA Care
    September 28, True Auditorium, MWHC, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Director: Leon Lai, MD
    MedStar Associates registration is only $50 with code. Offer Expires September 14.
    The Council of the District of Columbia has approved Bill B21-0168 “LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act of 2015”. The law requires that two (2) credits of instruction pertinent to cultural competency or specialized clinical training that focuses on LGBTQIA patients must be included as part of the continuing education requirements for any license, registration, or certification. This program will provide 2.25 hours towards this requirement.

    Mental Health Care for Emerging Adults
    September 28, National Union Building, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Director: Matthew G. Biel, MD; Aditi Vijay, MD

    The 5th Annual Gastric and Soft Tissue Neoplasms 2018
    September 29, Park Hyatt, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS; Nadim G. Haddad, MD; Dennis A. Priebat, MD, FACP
    MedStar Associates receive complimentary registration with code. Offer Expires September 1.

    Melanoma: Biology & Patient Management 2018
    October 13, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Michael B. Atkins, MD; Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS; Geoffrey T. Gibney, MD

    Advanced Heart Failure Summit: 30th Anniversary Celebration of Ventricular Assist Devices and Heart Transplantation at MHVI
    October 13, Martin’s Crosswinds, Greenbelt, Md.
    Course Co-Directors: Samer Najjar, MD and Mark Hofmeyer, MD
    Early Bird Registration available through September 1. Registration starting at $25

    ENT for the Primary Care Provider 2018
    October 20, Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Stanley H. Chia, MD; Selena Briggs, MD; Michael J. Reilly, MD
    MedStar Associates receive $50 off with code. Offer Expires September 30.

    The 13th Annual Georgetown Meeting on Gastrointestinal Endoscopy & Pancreatobiliary Surgery
    October 20, The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Nadim G. Haddad, MD and John E. Carroll, MD
    MedStar Associates receive complimentary registration with code. Offer Expires September 30.

    Thyroid Update 2018: New Concepts in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Thyroid Disease
    December 7, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Kenneth D. Burman, MD and Jason A. Wexler, MD
    MedStar Associates receive 20% off registration with code. Offer Expires November 30.

    Lung Cancer 2018
    December 8, The Wink Hotel, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Co-Directors: Deepa S. Subramaniam, MD, MSc and Giuseppe Giaccone, MD, PhD

    Contact for discount codes for MedStar associates.

  • July 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued a new guidance in June 2018 that provides clarification on the use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI) for research.

    Generally, authorizations for the use or disclosure of PHI for future research must include a description of each purpose of the requested use or disclosure. OCR had already provided that authorizations for future research did not need to specify each specific future study, if the studies to be conducted were not yet determined. The authorization does need to adequately describe the purposes for which the PHI will be used in the future such that it would be reasonable for the individual to expect that his or her PHI could be used or disclosed for such future research.

    The OCR guidance also clarified that an authorization for future research use or disclosure of PHI must contain an expiration date or an expiration event. In the case of authorizations for future research, the statement “at the end of the research study” or “none” is sufficient. Additionally, an example of an expiration event would be a statement that the authorization will remain valid unless and until it is revoked by the individual.

    The guidance also contains information on the requirement to inform individuals that they have the right to revoke an authorization after it is provided and the appropriate mechanisms by which someone could revoke an authorization for future research purposes.

    For questions about HIPAA authorizations for research, or other privacy-related questions in the research context, contact the Research Compliance Program at

  • July 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    For many of us, the time we spend gardening is enjoyable and even therapeutic. It’s important to remember, in addition to our fresh annuals and budding perennials, potentially dangerous hazards may also exist in our flower beds. From insects and bacteria to improper sitting and lifting, our yard work could lead to an injury or infection.

    The most common gardening injuries include cuts and scrapes. Other gardening injuries can occur from lawn mower and tool accidents, ring avulsions, and using improper body mechanics, especially when lifting heavy loads.

    How Cuts and Scrapes Can Lead to Infection

    It’s easy to get small cuts and scrapes on exposed skin while working in the garden. The soil contains bacteria and fungi that are beneficial for plants, but can be harmful for us, and those cuts and scrapes are a gateway for bacteria to enter our bodies. There are two serious infections that can be contracted while gardening:

    • Tetanus-an infection that can occur when contaminants found on garden tools or rose thorns enter the body, usually through cuts and scrapes. Symptoms may include weakness, stiffness, cramps, and muscle paralysis, particularly in the jaw. Muscle paralysis in the jaw, also known as lockjaw, can lead to difficulty chewing and swallowing.
    • Sepsis-an infection introduced to the body through cuts and scrapes, particularly when handling soil, mulch, or fertilizer with animal manure. When sepsis enters the bloodstream, your body reacts with an inflammatory response. Sepsis can escalate quickly, leading to life-threatening septic shock and organ failure.

    If you have a cut or scrape, the symptoms listed below could be a sign of infection. If you experience any of these, please seek medical attention right away.

    • Redness near the irritation site
    • Redness that expands beyond the cut or scrape
    • Skin that’s warm to the touch
    • Swollen lymph nodes

    It’s important to remember, cuts and scrapes can happen anywhere on our body, not just our hands and fingertips. Be sure to wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and protective footwear.

    What is Ring Avulsion?

    Ring avulsion occurs when rings are caught on objects and your body’s weight follows, pulling or tearing the skin around the finger. Avulsions are not very common, but they are very serious injuries. Damage from the harsh tug can range from simple bruising, to degloving, and even finger amputation.

    Degloving is when the finger’s skin is stripped from the bone, damaging the nerves and tendons. It can result in severe tissue loss, and in the most extreme cases, the amputated finger cannot be replanted. Side effects of ring avulsion include pain, bleeding, loss of sensation in the finger, discoloration, and disfigurement.

    Preventing a ring avulsion is very simple: remove rings when gardening, operating machinery, and participating in sports or outdoor activities. Wearing gloves will not prevent an avulsion; the ring can still catch objects from under the glove.

    How to Avoid Lawn Mower and Tool Accidents

    Every year, we see partial or complete amputations from lawn mower accidents. It’s important to properly maintain and clean lawn mowers. Remember to always use a tool or broom, never your hands, to clean debris or dislodge jams from a lawn mower. Be sure to turn off the lawn mower and wait until the blade stops moving before clearing debris.

    Even when the lawn mower is off, use a tool to clear jams. Sometimes, once the jam is removed, the blade will begin spinning again from momentum–even if the lawn mower is off!

    Always wear proper clothing and protective gear, including footwear, when operating machinery, such as lawn mowers, edgers, and hedge trimmers. Wear sneakers, not sandals or bare feet, long pants, and safety goggles.

    8 Tips to Prevent Gardening Injuries

    Other gardening injuries include poison ivy and insect and spider bites. Though some of these injuries can be serious, the good news is most are easily preventable with proper clothing.

    Here are eight simple tips for preventing gardening injuries:

    • Wear gloves at all times. This will protect your hands and fingers from cuts and scrapes and potentially harmful bacteria.
    • Wear protective clothing. Always wear long sleeves, long pants, and sneakers to protect your arms, legs, and feet from insect and spider bites, as well as cuts and scrapes. Additionally, wearing hats and sunscreen can protect your skin from prolonged exposure to the sun.
    • Remove rings. By taking off your rings, you eliminate the chance of ring avulsion.
    • Don’t sit back on your knees. Sitting back on your knees stresses knee joints and requires you to use your hands and wrists to stabilize. It also requires your hands and wrists to bear your weight while shifting from kneeling to standing. Try using a garden stool or bench.
    • Use good body mechanics, especially when picking up heavy items like mulch or topsoil. You can prevent upper extremity and back injuries by distributing the weight, using your legs to lift, and keeping the load close to your body when lifting. Remember not to bend at the waist. You can also use a wage or wheelbarrow to transport heavy loads.
    • Safely store your tools. Store sharp blades facing down and keep tools out of reach of children.
    • Don’t drink alcohol. Avoid alcoholic beverages while gardening or mowing the lawn. Save the beer or cocktail for when your yard work is done.
    • Take breaks. Stretch before, during, and after your yard work. Try to minimize sustained periods of repetitive motions, which can lead to tennis elbow and tendonitis.

    Use these tips to stay healthy and injury free, while enjoying your time in the garden!

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