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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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  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Thank you to all the MHRI and MedStar associates who attended and participated in the 2017 Race to Beat Cancer 5K. This charitable event is one of the premier 5K races in Washington, D.C., and was held on Saturday, September 16, 2017.

    In 2017, more than $300,000 was raised for cancer research. All proceeds from the race were donated to the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. These proceeds directly support research into the treatment and cure of cancer. The Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., hosted this annual event. This race celebrates survivors and honors those who have lost their battles with cancer.

    Opportunities to contribute to advances in research are available through participation in other upcoming research walks. Learn more about events in DC and Baltimore here.

  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health


    A collaborative investigation was undertaken to test the accuracy of wearable sensors during contact sports. “Video Analysis Verification of Head Impact Events Measured by Wearable Sensors" was published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. The research team included Nelson Cortes, PhD; Andrew E. Lincoln, ScD; Gregory D. Myer, PhD, ATC; Lisa Hepburn, PhD, MPH; Michael Higgins, PhD, PT, ATC; Margot Putukian, MD; and Shane V. Caswell, PhD, ATC. The research was completed in collaboration with the Sports Medicine Assessment, Research & Testing (SMART) Laboratory at George Mason University in Manassas, VA.

    A women’s lacrosse player wearing the X-patch device behind her right ear during a competition; figure courtesy of Lacrosse Magazine.

    The goal of this study was to describe the frequency and magnitude of head impact events recorded by wearable sensors that were confirmed by video analysis. As wearable sensors are increasingly used to quantify the frequency and magnitude of head impact events in contact sports and with the growing concerns about the potential for long-term effects of multiple head injuries, data are needed to verify the quality and quantity of head impact events recorded by wearable sensors.

    The study included a cohort of thirty boys and 35 girls from high school lacrosse teams. Each participant was assigned a unique sensor that was labeled to correspond to his or her jersey number. The girls each had an X-Patch sensor affixed behind the right ear and the boys had a GForce Tracker sensor secured to the inside of the helmet’s shell at the crown. To corroborate the data from the sensors, a professional videographer was stationed at a high vantage point over the midfield line. The sensors and video were calibrated before each game to ensure precise date and time information across the multiple instruments.

    The study found that “65% and 32% of all head impacts recorded during boys’ and girls’ lacrosse games were verified as true game-related head impacts by video analysis, respectively.” However, the remaining 35% of boys’ and 68% of girls’ head impacts were not verified by video or were not part of the game action, suggesting a high rate of false-positive impacts and an overestimation of verified head impact events by the wearable sensors.

    “Our findings indicate that the wearable sensors are highly sensitive measurement devices that can record and classify head impacts that may not actually be head impacts,” the authors said in the article’s conclusions. The rate of false-positives indicated that the sensors were identifying other bodily impacts (e.g., shoulders, torso, arms).

    “These findings have practical implications for how sensors should be deployed and the existing data interpreted. Without meticulous procedures during usage, it is plausible that impacts measured during game days can be erroneously elevated because of the excessive false-positive rate,” the authors concluded.

    The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 2017. DOI: 10.1177/0363546517706703

  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Your MedStar Health user ID is provided for your personal use. MedStar Health user IDs provide access to a wide range of services that are restricted for use by you personally (e.g., Protected Health Information, proprietary or confidential information).

    Passwords and log-ins assigned to each associate for the purpose of access to MedStar technology resources are not to be shared for any reason with anyone. This includes logging in other associates or outside contractors to utilize a MedStar Health computer or laptop. You can be held accountable for anything done while logged in with your MedStar Health user ID. 

    Associates should ensure that access to data and Protected Health Information is limited to authorized personnel. This information should never be shared via insecure email, fax, printing, or other non-protected channels. Someone who obtains your access could view or even modify sensitive information, potentially violating privacy or even the law. Never leave a workstation unattended; you should always lock the machine or log out before you walk away.

    Together, we can reduce cybersecurity risks to our organization, associates and patients. MedStar Health is committed to ensuring that all associates are knowledgeable about cybersecurity and prepared to identify and avoid cybersecurity risks. Learn more about cybersecurity at MedStar at

  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) require mandatory training for all associates of organizations that provide CMS benefit services. Two training modules are required:  1) Medicare Parts C and D General Compliance Training, and 2) Combating Medicare Parts C and D Fraud, Waste and Abuse.

    All associates, contractors, physicians (who are employed, contracted, or hold privileges at a MedStar facility), and temporary employees who perform services on-site at any MedStar facility or are directly or indirectly involved in caring for Medicare patients (e.g., billing, registration) must complete these training modules in the SiTEL system no later than December 15, 2017.  

    The trainings are in the SiTEL Learning Management System for your completion. Under “My Curriculum,” there should be a listing for Medicare Parts C and D Training 2017, which contains both training modules. This training must be completed by December 15, 2017.  These training modules are required for all MHRI employees.

    Take Action Now! Courses are available through SiTEL.

    1. Log on to the MedStar Health SiTEL Learning Management System at:
    2. Required CMS courses will be available for access upon log in under “My Curriculum.”

    These trainings will take approximately 20 minutes each to complete, so please allow for adequate time to complete them by December 15.

    If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Research Compliance Program at

  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Two years ago, MedStar Health Research Institute chose to plan for the future of research at MedStar by launching the “New Investigator – Associate Giving Grant Fund” from donations to the Power to Heal campaign by MedStar associates.

    The New Investigator Grants support scientific research by new MedStar Health investigators, advancing health for patients in the communities we serve and providing seed money that may lead to external grant funding.

    We are proud to announce that because of the generosity of MedStar Health associates, we are making strides toward advancing the health of the communities we serve. In the last year, recipients of New Investigator Grants have:

    • Leveraged pilot data to secure an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID). This is the first-ever NIH R01 grant for our MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute. This project has the potential to help those who could benefit from a life-altering intestinal transplant (ITx), but are unable to do so because of the high risk of immunological complications.
    • Developed an online communication tool to mitigate potential errors in patient care caused by interruptions in the clinical setting. The tool is currently being pilot tested in the Emergency Department at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and is providing for more efficient communication between emergency physicians and nurses.
    • Examined the impact of operating room team member familiarity on process and patient safety outcomes related to knee replacement surgery. The findings have the potential to make a significant contribution toward improving patient care and safety in the peri-operative setting.

    Providing Hope to Patients

    Alexander Kroemer, MD, PhD, was a recipient of a grant from the 2015 Power to Heal campaign. His research, “The Role of Nuclear Oligomerization Binding Domain-2 in Driving Th17-Mediated Allograft Rejection in Intestinal Transplant Recipients,” built on previous preliminary work to test the hypothesis that Th17-mediated immune responses play a major role in the potential for intestinal transplant rejection.

    For more than 99% of the 40,000 Americans who could benefit from a life-altering intestinal transplant (ITx), the procedure is not an option because of the high risk of immunological complications and costs. “The study we undertook has laid the foundation for unleashing the potential of ITx by understanding risk factors associated with immunologic graft loss at the intersection of the innate and adaptive immune systems and thereby providing insight into future targeted immunotherapies for the prevention/treatment of allograft rejection,” said Dr. Kroemer. “This will be a substantial contribution to public health in light of the rising numbers of people with intestinal failure.”

    The data from this project played a large role in securing an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID). This is the first-ever NIH R01 grant for the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute, and the project will run from 2017 to 2022. A presentation of this research was given locally by research fellow Brenna Houlihan, MD, at the MedStar-Georgetown Hufnagel Research Symposium.

    Communicating Care

    Kathryn Kellogg, MD, MPH,  wanted to investigate options to mitigate potential errors in patient care due to interruptions in the clinical setting, specifically in the MedStar Washington Hospital Center Emergency Department. “Development of a Novel Tool for Interruption Management” was funded by the 2015 Power to Heal campaign.

    Few studies have previously examined causes for interruptions in clinical situations or explored ways to manage the negative effects of these interruptions.  In order to identify a more appropriate communication tool, this research sought to understand the types of interruptions that occur and create a novel approach for managing interruptions. A web-based tool for communication between emergency nurses and physicians was developed with the input of multiple emergency physicians and tested through simulation studies.

    “When delivering care in a complex environment such as the emergency department, communication is essential for patient safety,” said Dr. Kellogg. “We have demonstrated that there is potential for improvement in performance and satisfaction of physicians using this tool. We will be able to strengthen the collaboration between colleagues, ultimately improving patient care with further development and testing of this tool.”

    Connecting Clinicians

    Shimae Fitzgibbons, MD, was a recipient of the New Investigator Grant funded from the 2015 Power to Heal campaign to investigate the relationship between patient outcomes and team familiarity in the operating room.

    The goal of “Understanding Team Familiarity in the Operating Room” was to examine the potential impact of operating room team member familiarity on the process and patient safety outcomes. The dataset was limited to six MedStar Hospitals, all consistently using the surgical EMR, and to knee arthroplasty (knee replacement), in order to limit certain confounding. Three approaches to familiarity were used: in-role familiarity (familiarity amongst team members within a given role), cross-role familiarity (familiarity between roles), and overall familiarity (combination of both sets of scores). The core surgical team members participating in the procedure were classified into the following categories: surgeon, anesthesiology team member, scrub technician, and circulator.

    The research identified that overall core team familiarity is associated with reduced surgery time and patient length of stay in knee arthroplasty cases. The greater the familiarity amongst operating room team members, the shorter the procedure lasts and the briefer the patient’s hospital stay. Follow-up analyses revealed that these effects were a function of cross-role familiarity rather than within-role familiarity.

    Results also suggested that familiarity between the surgeon and the circulator(s) was paramount. “This has the potential to make a significant contribution toward improving the way we construct our operating teams,” said Dr. Fitzgibbons. “These results can provide theoretical insight into the mechanisms that underlie the benefits of team familiarity and, in turn, help shape future processes to facilitate those benefits.”

    Your Power to Heal

    MedStar Health has launched the 2017 Giving: The Power to Heal Campaign. This campaign, which runs through Friday, Oct. 20, invites associates and physicians to invest through philanthropy and support patient experience initiatives across the system.

    “Associates throughout the MedStar family can have a powerful impact and have the Power to Heal through their support of research among our new investigators,” says Neil Weissman, MD, president of MedStar Health Research Institute. “We remain committed to our investigators and this is a chance to engage the wider MedStar Health community in the power of research to heal.”

    We invite you to discover your Power to Heal and choose to make a difference today! Click here to learn more.

  • September 29, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in September 2017. 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. Video intervention increases participation of black breast cancer patients in therapeutic trials.
      npj Breast Cancer, September 2017. DOI: 1038/s41523-017-0039-1
      Robinson BN, Newman AF, Tefera E, Herbolsheimer P, Nunes R, Gallagher C, Randolph-Jackson P, Omogbehin A, Dilawari A, Pohlmann PR, Mohebtash M, Lee Y, Ottaviano Y, Mohapatra A, Lynce F, Brown R, Mete M, Swain SM
    2. Current insight in the localized insulin-derived amyloidosis (LIDA): clinico-pathological characteristics and differential diagnosis.
      Pathology - Research and Practice, September 2017. DOI: 1016/j.prp.2017.08.013.
      Ansari AM, Osmani L, Matsangos AE, Li QK
    3. Novel pericatheter retrograde urethrogram technique is a viable method for postoperative urethroplasty imaging.
      International Urology and Nephrology, September 2017. DOI: 1007/s11255-017-1701-0
      Sussman RD, Hill FC, Koch GE, Patel V, Venkatesan K
    4. Take care of your neighborhood.
      Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, September 2017. DOI: 1007/s10549-017-4492-1
      Huerta EE, Weeks-Coulthurst P, Williams C, Swain SM
    5. How Prospective Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Trainees Rank Residency Training Programs.
      PM&R, September 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2017.08.445
      Auriemma MJ, Whitehair CL