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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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  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Don’t miss your chance to connect with other MHRI and MedStar associates by participating in one of these upcoming events to support the health of our communities.

    Race to Beat Cancer

    2016 Race to Beat Cancer MHRI Team
    2016 Race to Beat Cancer MHRI Team

    Saturday, September 16

    Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., is proud to host the 37th annual Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., Race to Beat Cancer 5K. This charitable event is one of the premier 5K races in Washington, D.C., The proceeds from this event are donated to the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. In 2016, the event raised more than $180,000 for cancer research! To learn more and register, visit When registering, join the MHRI team by selecting MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI)” from the drop down menu on the Group/Team field for your event. You can view the team page here.

    2017 DC Tour de Cure + Step Out Walk

    Saturday, September 23

    Be part of the Stop Diabetes movement at Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes on September 23 at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., Bring your friends, family and co-workers to walk with thousands of people from across the country and help us change the future of diabetes. This walk is hosted by the American Diabetes Association. Learn more at 

    Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel

    2016 Super H 5K MHRI Team
    2016 Super H 5K MHRI Team

    Sunday, September 24

    Help support the Adaptive Sports Programs at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and participate in the Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel in Tysons Corner, VA. This race is open to all able-bodied and disabled athletes who can run, walk or roll through the course. All proceeds benefit Adaptive Sports Programs at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, which helps children and adults with physical disabilities to pursue healthy, active lifestyles through recreational and competitive sports. Learn more and register at


    2017 Step Out: Baltimore, MD

    Sunday, October 1

    Join fellow walkers at Canton Waterfront Park to support the diabetes community of Baltimore. When you register for the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, you become a part of the American Diabetes Association’s team. Joining you will be thousands of participants from around the country who come together and directly impact the lives of people facing the daily challenges of diabetes. Learn more here.

    2017 Greater Washington Heart Walk

    2016 MCRN Greater Heart Walk Team
    2016 MCRN Greater Heart Walk Team

    November 4, 2017

    Hosted by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, this event includes 1- and 3-mile routes. Join walkers from across our community as they step out to have fun, get inspired and support a meaningful cause. Learn more on the website.

  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Eva Hochberger was awarded the SPIRIT of Excellence Award for the second quarter of 2017 at a presentation at University Town Center (UTC) offices. Eva is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI). Nominated by Katie Carlin, Director, Research Development, Planning and Communications, the award was presented by Neil Weissman, MD, president of MHRI.

    The room was at capacity with colleagues from UTC who came out to celebrate Eva and her contributions to MHRI. She was recognized for her selflessness, overall ingenuity and willingness to always provide support and help to her colleagues. Kate Carlin said, “Eva makes us all better at what we do, and for that, the organization is better because of Eva.” Several associates spoke and highlighted Eva’s ability to light up any room and come to work every day with a positive, fun and creative spirit. She brings new and innovative ideas to the table to make work more efficient and effective.

    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. Nomination submissions for the third quarter of 2017 are due by August 15. Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact

  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    A. Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, Medical Director and Director of Cognitive Informatics at MedStar Institute for Innovation (Mi2), was awarded funding for his research on health information technology (IT) and its contribution to medical errors. Members of the research team include co-investigators, Rollin (Terry) J. Fairbanks, MD, MS, associate director of Mi2, and Raj Ratwani, PhD, scientific director and senior research scientist at the MedStar National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, along with Joseph Blumenthal; Danielle Mosby, MS; and Daniel Hoffman.

    “Context is Critical: Understanding When and Why EHR-Related Safety” will utilize a technology package to capture user interactions with the electronic health records (EHR). This research combines human factors engineering and the analysis of recorded EHR interactions during patient care to demonstrate the context of errors and the contributions of EHR design elements to these errors. As part of MedStar Health’s commitment to innovation and safety, this research will help to develop an understanding of the context and contributing factors that lead to health IT safety hazards as the next necessary step to prevent EHR-facilitated medical errors.

    A. Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, Medical Director and Director of Cognitive Informatics at MedStar Institute for Innovation
    A. Zach Hettinger, MD, MS, Medical Director and Director of Cognitive Informatics at MedStar Institute for Innovation

    This research has been funded by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Dr. Hettinger has previously investigated aspects of improving the use of health IT in the clinical environment through smaller grants. “This has been evolving over the last 5 to 7 years,” said Dr. Hettinger, “building a team that has focused on the development of a process of event reviews to understand system-based issues and contributing factors.”

    This interdisciplinary research builds on previous research on algorithms used to identify medical errors and interventions to combat these errors. What separates this research is that it is intended to specifically look at why errors occur within EHR systems at the time of the event and to create solutions through human factors engineering.

    “This research was made possible by the support system that the MedStar Health Research Institute has for investigators. At another institution, it could take more than 8 months to submit a grant application,” said Dr. Hettinger. “The tightly integrated infrastructure of MHRI, the MedStar Institute for Innovation and MedStar Health supports the work of investigators to focus on the science of the research. Having MHRI associates integrated into our team allows us to build close working relationships in order to take advantage of new opportunities and activate research quickly.”

    The MRHI grant submission team for this research included Angela Thomas, JoAnnette Perez Chacon, and Sarah Wright-Gaul. The MHRI IRB team included James Foreman and Crystal Bland. Christina Stanger and Akhila Iyer provided additional support for the submission.

  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    There are two changes being made to logging time and attendance through PeopleSoft. These changes reflect the growing needs and usage of PeopleSoft as an organization and benefit associates at all levels and locations.

    For All Non-Exempt Associates:

    On September 3, 2017, the PeopleSoft Time and Labor Web Clock functionality will be implemented for all non-exempt MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Associates. The Punch Timesheet will replace MHRI’s existing timesheet in the PeopleSoft Time and Labor system. Associates will begin entering their time using the Web Clock and Punch Timesheet as of September 3. The Web Clock will capture time and attendance electronically and automatically populate the punch timesheet in PeopleSoft for payroll processing.

    Benefits of the new Punch Timesheet and Web Clock system:

    • No more paper timesheets for DC based associates.
    • The Web Clock will record actual punch time with just a few clicks.
    • The Punch Timesheet will systematically calculate time worked and overtime based on actual clocked data and explicitly defined pay policies.
    • The Punch Timesheet and Web Clock will record/track meal breaks.

    We encourage you to review the online, self-paced tutorial for the PeopleSoft Time and Labor Punch Timesheet and Web Clock located on StarPort at the following link:

    Training is required for all non-exempt associates in the PeopleSoft Time and Labor Web Clock, so please ensure that you are able to attend a training session.

    Register for Training Today

    1. Log on to the MedStar Health SiTEL Learning Management System at
    2. Enter course code [Li-022757] in the Search Catalog field. Once you have selected the course, choose your desired date and time.
    3. There is a maximum capacity of 12 associates per training session.
    4. Due to the number of associates requiring training, please register for the earliest available session. Remember, once you enroll, you must attend your chosen session.


    Training Dates

    Training Time(s)

    Training Room

    Remote - WebEx for NIH Phoenix


    09:30 - 10:00 MST
    13:00 - 13:30 MST


    MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
    201 E. University Parkway
    Baltimore, MD 21218


    09:30 - 10:00
    14:30 - 15:00

    Auxiliary Classroom

    University Town Center (Hyattsville)
    6525 Belcrest Road, Suite 700
    Hyattsville, MD 20782


    09:30 - 10:00
    13:00 - 13:30

    Multipurpose Room

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    110  Irving Street, NW
    Washington, D.C., 20010


    09:30 - 10:00
    10:30 - 11:00
    13:00 - 13:30

    MWHC EB-4127 HR Second Training Room

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    110 Irving Street, NW
    Washington, D.C., 20010


    09:30 - 10:00
    10:30 - 11:00
    13:00 - 13:30

    MWHC EB-4127 HR Second Training Room


    For All Exempt Associates

    Effective Monday, July 17th, all exempt MHRI Associates have the option to select functionality that permits reported time to be automatically copied and pre-populated from the current pay week to the next pay week.

    This election is completely voluntary. You may choose to use this Timesheet Copy-Forward functionality or to continue to enter time as you do today. In either situation, you must still click “Submit” each week to submit your time sheet.

    If you choose to utilize the copy-forward functionality, please note that it will duplicate any PTO or holiday time that you may have entered in the previous week. As such, you will have to manually update changes to the current week and click “Submit.”

    You can view a job aid, FAQ and a video walkthrough on StarPort at

    Should you need assistance, please either contact your Human Resources representative or the MedStar Helpdesk (1-877-777-8787).

  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who were published in July 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. Beating, Fast and Slow.
      The New England Journal of Medicine, 2017. DOI: 1056/NEJMcps1608688
      Jani SM, Nallamothu BK, Cooper LT, Smith A, Fazel R
    2. Feasibility of transcatheter aortic valve replacement in low-risk patients with symptomatic severe aortic stenosis: Rationale and design of the Low Risk TAVR (LRT) study.
      American Heart Journal, 2017. DOI: 1016/j.ahj.2017.03.008
      Rogers T, Torguson R, Bastian R, Corso P, Waksman R
    3. How (ED) admission decisions differ when the same physician works in two different emergency departments.
      The American Journal of Emergency Medicine¸ 2017. DOI: 1016/j.ajem.2017.01.067
      Pines JM, Galarraga JE, Granvosky M, Litvak O, Davis S, Warner LH
    4. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy in Older Adults with Heart Failure.
      Heart Failure Clinics, DOI: 10.1016/j.hfc.2017.02.011
      Lam PH, Taffet GE, Ahmed A, Singh S
    5. Exercise Training for Persons with Alzheimer's Disease and Caregivers: A Review of Dyadic Exercise Interventions.
      Journal of Motor Behavior, 2017. DOI: 10.1080/00222895.2016.1241739
      Lamotte G, Shah RC, Lazarov O, Corcos DM
  • August 04, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    The MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has worked to simplify the process for case reports.

    What is the Current Process?

    Current IRB Form 2C, Case Report Review Request, states that under U.S. Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46) case reports are not considered “research”. This form is compliant with regulations and prevailing industry interpretation on the definition of research. However, MHRI has requires IRB acknowledgment of all case reports even that the IRB was not necessary. The acknowledgment is beyond what is required by regulations. This project focused on eliminating unnecessary steps, specifically eliminating the acknowledgment for case reports.

    Why the Change?

    Simply stated, to make it simpler and reduce unneeded work. IRBs must guard against IRB mission creep, in which IRBs spend time, energy, and staffing resources attempting to prevent a growing list of imagined, minor, or highly unlikely harms.1,2 IRB mission creep can lead to a system of over-regulation while underprotecting.1,2 Upcoming changes to the Common Rule (compliance date January 19, 2018) are focused on ensuring IRBs better protect human subjects involved in research by facilitating valuable research and reducing burden, delay, and ambiguity for investigators.3 Our change is in line with that philosophy to modernize, simplify, and enhance the current system of oversight.3

    So What Happens Now?

    The ORI website has been revised to include the forms for Case Reports, along with Frequently Asked Questions about case reports. View the revised webpage.    

    On that webpage, you will have access to some key documents needed to perform case reports.

    1. A HIPAA Authorization Form to use with Patients
    2. MedStar HIPAA Guidance for Case Reports
    3. A letter to provide to journals stating that IRB review is not necessary

    If you have any questions, please contact



    1 C.K. Gunsalus, et al., Mission Creep in the IRB World.Science 2006;312:1441. Available at

    2; Ronald F. White, Institutional Review Board Mission Creep: The Common Rule, Social Science, and the Nanny State. Independent Review; Spring 2007:547-56. Available at

     382 FR 7149, 7149 (January, 19, 2017). Available at