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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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  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Space is limited for this is a one-week (40-hour) intensive workshop with a focus on biostatistics, observational epidemiology, and design of clinical trials.

    Developed by Jason Umans, MD, PhD, scientific director of the Biomarker, Biochemistry, and Biorepository Core, and Nawar Shara, PhD, director, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, this is a one-week (40-hour) intensive survey workshop for investigators, focusing on biostatistics, epidemiology and use of open-source software for research.

    Topics covered include:

    • Introduction to Biostatistics
    • Working with SPSS
    • Statistical Tests
    • Introduction to Regression Analysis
    • Study Design
    • Power & Sample Size
    • Meta-Analysis

    June 18-22, 2018
    9:00 am – 5:00 pm
    Georgetown University
    St. Mary’s Hall, Room 414
    3700 Reservoir Road, MW
    Washington, D.C., 200007

    Registration Fee:

    • $1,200 for Faculty & Staff
    • $800 for Residency and Fellowship Programs
    • Group rates available

    This workshop may be eligible for tuition assistance benefits. Contact your benefits office for details.

    Questions? Contact Rebecca Ho at

    Registration closes June 4; space is limited. Register today at

  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Registration is open for the seventh annual MedStar Health Research Symposium on Monday, April 30, 2018, from 1:30 to 6:30 pm at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. 

    Hosted by the MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Health Academic Affairs, the MedStar Health Research Symposium is open to all members of the research community interested in learning more about research at MedStar. The Symposium offers the opportunity to connect with researchers, residents, executive leaders, and collaborative partners from across the region and our system to build meaningful relationships to further advance the health of our community.

    The Research Symposium features scientific poster presentations from investigators across the system and the spectrum of care, information on research support services offered by MedStar Health Research Institute and the opportunity to connect with residents and researchers dedicated to advancing health. 

    Learn more and register at

    1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Pre-Symposium Professional Development and Advancement Sessions
    These 60-minute optional workshops are offered before the Symposium and are intended to provide small group educational sessions hosted by experts from the MedStar Health community. Each session focuses on a specific academic topic and is open to all Symposium attendees. Seats will be reserved for those who pre-register for the event. Attendees who do not pre-register for a session or who register on-site may attend these sessions on a first-come, first-seated basis.

    • Biomedical Informatics: Utilizing Clinical Data for Research
      Ian Brooks, PhD
    • Biostatistics and Data Science: Which Test Should I Run? A Review of Commonly Utilized Statistical Tests
      Stephen Fernandez, MS
    • Gratitude Realized: A Solution for Research Funding
      MedStar Philanthropy Moderated Panel Session
    • GUMC Academic Appointments, Promotions, CVs and Mentoring
      Priscilla Furth, PhD; Elliott Crooke, PhD; Rebecca Evangelista, MD
    • Navigating the IRB Process
      Kate Cohen, JD
    • Tips and Tricks for Funding Success
      Raj Ratwani, PhD; Amy Goldstein, PhD; Angela Thomas, DrPh
    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Resident & Fellow Oral Presentations
    As part of the MedStar Health system-wide resident research day, the top scoring resident and fellow abstracts are invited to give a short oral presentation on their research to attendees. These presentations allow residents and fellows to gain the experience of presenting their research and allow them to share their work with the larger MedStar Health community.
    4:00 pm - 6:30 pm Poster Presentations & Awards
    The main feature of the Symposium, the main ballroom opens to showcase the peer-reviewed abstract presentations from across MedStar. Ranging from health services research to critical care to orthopedics, all departments and entities are represented by established investigators, residents, and fellows. Also featured during this time is a moderated poster session and award presentations.
    6:30 pm Post-Symposium Gratitude Reception
    Hosted by MedStar Philanthropy, all are invited to attend an on-site reception directly following the Moderated Poster Presentations & Awards in the main ballroom. This will provide further networking with MedStar leaders, researchers, associates, grateful patients and donors to research.

    Registration is free for all attendees and the event is open to all the MedStar Health community.

    Questions? Contact

  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    This course is a brief overview of the regulations and ethics involved in conducting human subjects research. It is designed for investigators, study coordinators, and others who are responsible for facilitating and implementing specific components of research studies.

    Course Objectives

    • To describe the primary roles and responsibility of the research team in a research study.
    • To obtain relevant content and tools needed to facilitate the implementation and conduct of a clinical research study.

    The training is free. Registration required. Breakfast and a light lunch will be provided. Register today at

    Course Director
    Mary Anne Hinkson

    Friday, March 23
    8:00 am –  4:30 pm

    MedStar Health Research Institute
    University Town Center
    6525 Belcrest Road, Suite 700
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Derek M. DeLia, PhD, has joined MedStar Health Research Institute as the Director of Health Economics and Health Systems Research. His research focuses on healthcare payment and delivery reform, federal and state health policy, performance measurement for accountable care organizations (ACOs), shared savings arrangements, coordination of care for complex patients, emergency medical care, healthcare access, and health insurance coverage.

    Dr. DeLia currently serves on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Health Systems and Value Research Study Section and has served on other scientific review committees for AHRQ, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

    “Health services research is important because it affects everyone in some aspect of their life. It is needed to ensure that the right services are provided to the right people at the right time as efficiently as possible,” said Dr. DeLia. “Research needs to be continually conducted and updated because healthcare and related services are complex and they operate in an ever-changing economic and technological environment. We also need diverse groups of people to participate in this research to ensure that their concerns are well represented.”

    Dr. DeLia has presented research and provided policy analysis for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the National ACO Summit, the National Medicaid Congress, the New Jersey Department of Health, and the Medicaid Office in the New Jersey Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services.

    “Of my recent work, measuring financial performance in shared saving arrangements, which are common in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and other delivery system reforms, has been very impactful. The body of work uses some fairly advanced statistical modeling and simulation techniques to help organizations get a firmer grasp on the financial risks they assume when participating in these arrangements,” said Dr. DeLia. “Although I am proud that the work led to several peer-reviewed publications, it stands out, especially because it was quickly recognized by practitioners for having immediate practical relevance. Optum used findings from this work to create an online risk calculator made available as a planning tool for ACOs. Because of this work, I was invited twice to the National ACO Summit to explain the financial risk implications embodied in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Similarly, I was asked to apply principles from this research to assist United Healthcare and a Medicaid ACO in Camden, New Jersey in the development and execution of their own shared savings arrangement.”

    Prior to joining MedStar, Dr. DeLia was a research professor and senior health economist at Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. He also held research positions at the United Hospital Fund of New York and taught Health Economics, Econometrics, and Statistics at Rutgers University, Columbia University, New York University, and the City University of New York. Dr. DeLia earned a PhD in Economics at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    For the sixth year running, the MHRI Wellness Committee invited associates to wear red in support of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) fight against heart disease in February. From February 2 until February 14, associates gathered together to show their commitment to heart health.

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At MedStar Health Research Institute, many of our research efforts are designed to improve quality of life for heart patients. Cardiovascular research provides patients with the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and treatment for heart and vascular disease. Clinical research trials also may provide access to new drugs and interventions.

    Thank you to all who showed their support for this important cause! Check out all the photos that were submitted by MHRI associate teams. Thank you to all who took the time to participate. Winners will be announced in an upcoming edition of Important Things to Know for all MHRI associates.

  • March 02, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in February 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. Implementation of universal rapid human immunodeficiency virus screening on labor and delivery.
      Therapeutic Advances in Infectious Disease. DOI: 1177/2049936117753012
      Crochet S, Huang CC, Fries M, Scott RK
    2. The American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN) certification review course: the impact on heart failure nurses' knowledge.
      Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care. DOI: 1016/j.hrtlng.2018.01.002
      Anderson KM, Bither C, Andon N
    3. Impact of a Smartphone Application on Skin Self-Examination Rates in Patients that are New to Total Body Photography: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
      Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. DOI: 1016/j.jaad.2018.02.025
      Marek AJ, Chu EY, Ming ME, Khan ZA, Kovarik CL
    4. Implementing a fracture liaison service open model of care utilizing a cloud-based tool.
      Osteoporosis International. DOI: 1007/s00198-017-4371-y
      Greenspan SL, Singer A, Vujevich K, Marchand B, Thompson DA, Hsu YJ, Vaidya D, Stern LS, Zeldow D, Lee DB, Karp S, Recker R
    5. Physical activity and telomere length in American Indians: the Strong Heart Study.
      European Journal of Epidemiology. DOI: 10.1007/s10654-018-0363-2
      Fretts AM, Mete M, Howard BV, Best LG, Siscovick DS, Eilat-Adar S, Zhao J