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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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  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    On January 19, 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and fifteen other federal agencies issued revisions to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, known as the “Common Rule.” These were the first major revisions to this policy since it was promulgated in 1991.

    Institutions were required to update policies, documents, and practices to comply with the new Common Rule by the compliance date, which was January 19, 2018. On January 17, 2018, an interim final rule was released. This interim final rule delays the effective date and compliance date of the revised Common Rule for six months. The new compliance date is July 19, 2018.

    Why Was the Rule Delayed?

    The delay allows institutions additional time to prepare to implement the changes in the revised Common Rule. It also allows the federal agencies time to issue guidance documents related to the implementation of the revisions in the Common Rule.

    What Does this Mean for My Research?

    The MHRI IRB office will be working to prepare to implement the changes in the revised Common Rule over the next few months. Research that is currently approved or that will be approved prior to the new compliance date of July 19, 2018, will not be affected by the revisions to the Common Rule.


    If you have questions about the delay of the Common Rule revisions, contact the Office of Research Integrity at or (301) 560-2912.

  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Join more than 2,500 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 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. CRT gives attendees a great opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, collaborate on interventional cardiology solutions, receive interventional cardiology training and network with other professionals. Our interventional cardiology conference features focused educational and training sessions that discuss new trial data, explore evidence-based research, and demonstrate the most up-to-date techniques that can be directly applied to clinical and academic practices. With over 2,500 attendees, the CRT conference continues to be a leading boutique meeting for endovascular and interventional cardiology professionals.

    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. This interventional cardiology training event consists of four value-packed days with keynote speakers, presentations, workshops, symposia, poster sessions, and discussions with thought leaders in interventional and structural cardiology.

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

    March 3-6, 2018
    Omni Shoreham Hotel
    2500 Calvert Street NW
    Washington, D.C., 20008

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

  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Do you know someone who exemplifies excellence, leadership, and commitment? Each year, MedStar Health associates have the opportunity to win a John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship is for five MedStar Health associates, each equaling up to $3,500. Recipients of the scholarship may use funds for tuition and/or fees for the current academic semester (in which the applicant is currently enrolled) or for the upcoming academic semester.

    Established in 2003, the John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship awards academic scholarships to highly-motivated, MedStar associates who strive to advance their leadership career in health care and are:

    • American Indian or Alaska Native
    • Asian
    • Black or African-American
    • Hispanic or Latino
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

    The John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship honors the late John L. Green, executive vice president, Corporate Services. From 1983 to 2002, Green held executive leadership roles at Medlantic Health Care Group and MedStar Health, as well as on the Morgan State University Board of Regents in Baltimore. He served as chairman of the Morgan State University board from 1990 to 1995.

    The scholarship is reserved for exceptional individuals who share Green’s traits of excellence, leadership, and commitment to the vision, mission, and values of MedStar Health. This targeted scholarship reflects Green’s commitment to increasing minority representation in leadership positions in health care.

    The scholarship is funded entirely by a grant from the MedStar Health Board of Directors to commemorate Green’s contributions and his legacy of excellence.

    Recipients of the John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship are awarded up to $3,500 for assistance with tuition and fees for the current or upcoming academic semester. Interested associates must meet the scholarship criteria and submit a completed application by April 18. Previous recipients include Jose Pineda, Treatment Navigator at the MedStar Clinical Research Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

    For questions about the John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship, call 410-772-6751 or email Christine Dubs. You can find the details on applications and submissions on, under Career > John L. Green Generation of Leadership Scholarship.

  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    You are invited to AWARE for All - Washington, D.C.,an informative educational event and health fair, featuring talks from Washington, D.C.,-based experts on cutting-edge science and clinical research. Additionally, we will be providing free health screenings for all attendees.                                 

    A very high percentage of the public cannot name a place where clinical trials are conducted, and most say they wouldn’t know what to do if they needed to find and evaluate clinical trials to aid in their decision to participate. Most professionals also point to the low 3% of eligible patients who participate.

    To address this educational need and opportunity, CISCRP is teaming up with GHUCCTS and other local organizations to plan a live community education program that aims to educate and empower the public to make informed decisions about all treatment options available, including clinical research participation. The event, entitled AWARE for All, includes informational exhibits that feature research charities and centers, local physicians and patient speakers, a reception to honor clinical research participants or “Medical Heroes,” free food and health checks.

    Thursday, April 19
    5:00 pm– 8:00 pm
    Armour J. Blackburn University Center at Howard University
    2397 Sixth Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20059

    Visit the website for more information and to register:

  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Researchers at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center have again enrolled the first patient in the world in a Phase III study of treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

    Estimated enrollment for “Phase III Randomized, Double-Blind Study of Pembrolizumab plus Epacadostat vs Pembrolizumab plus placebo as First-line Treatment in Patients with Metastatic NSCLC expressing high levels of PDL1” (NCT03322540) is more than 580 patients from around the world. This study will track patient outcomes through progression-free survival and overall survival rates at over 160 locations. This study is sponsored by Incyte Corporation and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.

    “We were able to enroll the first patient due to the wonderful cooperation of the whole research team – contracts, regulatory, pathology, physicians, research coordinators and pharmacists – it was the efforts of all of these people that made it happen, “ said Suman Rao, MD. “Special recognition goes to Jean Flack for her commitment to this study. She went the extra length and her persistence was what resulted in making this milestone.”

    The Weinberg Cancer Institute was also the first in the world to enroll a patient in another Phase III study, “A Randomized, Double-Blind, Phase III Study of Carboplatin-Paclitaxel/Nab-Paclitaxel Chemotherapy With or Without Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in First Line Metastatic Squamous Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Subjects (KEYNOTE-407)” (NCT02775435) in 2016.

    Congratulations to this dedicated, hard-working team for their commitment to advancing health through research!

  • January 31, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in January 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. Advances in Diabetes Pharmacotherapy: An Update for the Emergency Provider.
      Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2018. DOI: 1016/j.jemermed.2017.08.024
      Mazer-Amirshahi M, Pourmand A
    2. Take care of your neighborhood.
      Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, DOI: 10.1007/s10549-017-4492-1
      Huerta EE, Weeks-Coulthurst P, Williams C, Swain SM
    3. Providing Effective Speech-Language Pathology Group Treatment in the Comprehensive Inpatient Rehabilitation Setting.
      Seminars in Speech and Language, 2018. DOI: 1055/s-0037-1608856
      Baron C, Holcombe M, van der Stelt C
    4. Continuous Cardiac Inotropes in Patients With End-Stage Heart Failure: An Evolving Experience.
      Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2018. DOI: 1016/j.jpainsymman.2017.09.026
      Malotte K, Saguros A, Groninger H
    5. Plantar Fibromatosis: Pathophysiology, Surgical and Nonsurgical Therapies: An Evidence-Based Review.
      Foot and Ankle Specialist, 2018. DOI: 10.1177/1938640017751184
      Carroll P, Henshaw RM, Garwood C, Raspovic K, Kumar D