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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 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MedStar Health Research Institute and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    Research Grand Rounds are open to all members of the research team, from principal investigators to clinical and research coordinators and trainees. Topics covered in the Research Grand Rounds range from community-focused research to best practices and are intended to increase collaboration within the research community in and outside of MedStar Health.

    Toward Eliminating Colorectal Cancer Disparities
    Adeyinka Laiyemo, MD
    Howard University, Department of Gastroenterology

    February 2, 2018
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Theater
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    For more information on this and other Research Grand Rounds, please contact The webcast of the Research Grand Rounds is archived on the GHUCCTS website. Presentations are uploaded approximately 30 days from the event. View past presentations here.

  • January 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    At MedStar Health, we recognize that our success is only possible through the hard work and dedication of our associates. We value and appreciate your contributions, and take great pride in offering a comprehensive benefits package—MedStar Total Rewards—that helps you grow personally and professionally, recognizes and rewards your hard work, and helps you plan for your future.

    Keeping up with all that MedStar Total Rewards offers will now be easier with myHR, a new online tool that brings together benefits and other Human Resources (HR) information in one convenient location. This new portal launches on January 15.

    Available anytime, anywhere, the HR portal simplifies, organizes and serves as a primary resource for all of your HR needs. Many months of research, testing, and associate feedback went into the creation of myHR, and the result is a powerful website that offers an enhanced self-service experience for finding information.

    myHR is designed with you in mind and offers many features, including:

    • One-stop for HR information—benefits, pay, savings, managing life events, career development, and other topics of interest
    • Personalized experience—reminders, announcements, and information are tailored to you based on your employer, role, work location, and benefit eligibility
    • Secure in- and out-of-network access—available 24/7 from any computer or mobile device
    • MedStar Total Rewards Summary—personalized overview of your MedStar Total Rewards package, including compensation, benefits, retirement savings, and other benefit programs in which you participate. Historically, associates received their MedStar Total Rewards Summary in hard copy at their homes. Associate Survey feedback indicated the MedStar Total Rewards Summary—showcasing a complete picture of MedStar’s total investment in each associate—as an invaluable resource. For the first time, the MedStar Total Rewards Summary is now online, as part of myHR.

    Explore myHR: Simple. Convenient. All in One Place

    When you log into myHR, you have a wealth of information available at your fingertips. For example, you can view benefit plan options, navigate important steps when life events occur, explore associate discounts, and access HR sites such as ePayStubs, Fidelity, The Work Number, and Talent Manager. All of these and more HR resources are accessible quickly, with only a few clicks.

    Associates can access myHR in two ways:

    • Within MedStar network—visit StarPort home page and select myHR link under HR Information section; using the StarPort link is single sign-on to myHR.
    • Outside MedStar network—visit from any device. A one-time new user registration is necessary the first time you visit This step allows associates to create a password for accessing myHR anytime from any device.

    Explore myHR and discover the many perks of your MedStar Total Rewards.

    Be sure to check out the new portal on January 15!

  • January 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Minorities and women are particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Women have a higher incidence of AD at later ages and relative to Caucasians, the threat of AD is even more substantial in the African-American and Hispanic communities. More research into African Americans and other minority populations with AD is crucial to the goals of precision medicine. Studies show the advantage of using different approaches to understanding what is likely to be a complex picture of AD-related ethnicity differences.

    This presentation will discuss research into protein levels in post-mortem African American and Caucasian brain tissue from both genders to explore ethnicity- and gender-related differences. The selected proteins include those thought to be critically involved in AD. Those proteins were examined in samples of the middle temporal gyrus that were matched for age at death since this region is critically involved in language processing and generation and has been shown to be significantly affected by AD.

    Presented by
    Sherry Ferguson, PhD
    Research Psychologist
    Division of Neurotoxicology
    FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR)

    Vijayalakshmi Varma, PhD
    Research Biologist, NCTR

    Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018
    12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
    Learn more and register here.

    The FDA Grand Rounds is webcast every other month to highlight cutting-edge research underway across the Agency and its impact on protecting and advancing public health. Each session features an FDA scientist presenting on a key public health challenge and how FDA is applying science to its regulatory activities. The 45-minute presentation is followed by questions from the audience.

  • January 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    We are pleased to announce the 2018-2020 cohort of the MedStar Research Scholars.

    The MedStar Research Scholars program supports the development of MedStar clinicians who seek careers with a focus on clinical and translational research, in large part by addressing the need for research mentorship and critical feedback in project design, analysis, and presentation. MedStar Health Research Institute, MedStar Health Academic Affairs, and the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science offer this research career development program to clinical and junior research colleagues.

    More information on the program can be found here. Congratulations to the new scholars! 

    Erin Hall, MD, MPH
    Surgery and Critical Care
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center

    Christine Hsu, MD
    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute

    Alexander Kim, MD
    MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    Peggy Ye, MD, MPH
    Women's and Infants' Services
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center

  • January 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Christina (Tina) Stanger, MA, CRA, Director of MHRI’s Office of Contract and Grant Management, was recognized as the fourth quarter 2017 SPIRIT of Excellence Award recipient. The award was presented by Neil Weissman, MD, President, and Karen J. Wade, Vice President of Research Administrative Services, at a gathering at the University Town Center offices.

    Several associates from the University Town Center office spoke in recognition of Tina’s award. “She supports her associates,” said Amy Crupiti. “We always feel that we can come to her with new ideas, comments, or concerns that associates may have that will improve the department, the associate or MHRI as a whole.”

    In addition to her welcome attitude, she also encourages her associates to reach further through professional development actives, actively works with other departments to facilitate teamwork efforts, and helps to empower change throughout systems within MHRI.

    The SPIRIT Award is given to recognize and reward one associate (management or non-management) each quarter, who excels in Service, Patient First, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork. Nominations for the first quarter of 2018 are due by February 15, 2018. Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact

  • January 07, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Recently published research at MedStar investigated the link between the educational level of study participants and treatment preferences for type 2 diabetes medication. This stratification study sought to clarify treatment preferences for participants with type 2 diabetes based on their educational level: completed high school or less, completed some college, or completed college or more education.

    This study was a collaborative between Joan K. Bardsley, MBA, RN, COE, FAADE, of MedStar Health Research Institute and MedStar Nursing, with colleagues at Virginia Commonwealth University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects 29.1 million people (9.3%) and is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Research has shown that people with lower income and less education are two to four times more likely to develop diabetes and more likely to be affected by complications of diabetes.

    Treatment preferences for different aspects of diabetes medication were measured using a discrete-choice experiment (DCE). In a DCE, it is assumed that a treatment profile (in this case diabetes medication) is defined by a variety of characteristics, or attributes that can exist at different levels. Participants were asked to complete several choice tasks in which they are presented with one or more distinct treatment profiles, comparing pairs of treatment profiles composed of six attributes: A1c decrease, stable blood glucose, low blood glucose, nausea, treatment burden, and out-of-pocket cost.

    In this study, a DCE was used to show that persons with type 2 diabetes do not only value reductions in their A1c levels but also had preferences for medications that stabilized their daily glucose levels and that reduced burden/harms of medication.

    Those with a higher education were willing to pay more for all medication attributes than those with lower educational attainment, possibly due to their higher average income. Participants with a college education were willing to pay more than people with high school or less to avoid nausea, low blood glucose events during the day/night, or two pills per day.

    The findings in this study also suggest that people with diabetes patients with lower levels of education are willing to allocate more of their budget to avoid a higher treatment burden and that they might place more value on keeping their glucose levels within a daily target range.

    “Being aware of patient preferences and that these preferences might vary by demographic characteristics can help clinicians tailor treatment approaches to patients by either adapting treatment or increasing educational efforts on the importance of lowering A1c,” the study concluded.

    Dove Press, 2017. DOI: 10.2147/PPA.S139471