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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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  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    This educational symposium will update the medical community on the state-of-the-art care of gastric and soft tissue neoplasms, while focusing on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of these rare and complicated disease entities; including gastric adenocarcinoma and retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma. National and international renowned guest speakers and distinguished faculty, including those from MedStar Health and the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, will discuss the significant roles of evolving new diagnostic modalities, immune therapies, the use of organ-sparing surgery, the use of state-of-the-art radiotherapy in gastric cancer and retroperitoneal sarcomas.

    Course Co-Directors: Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD; Nadim G. Haddad, MD; Dennis A Priebat, MD

    Saturday, September 23, 2017
    7:00 AM - 1:15 PM
    Park Hyatt, Washington, D.C., 

    Register here.     

  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    “GenomeTrakr: How a Large Network of Sequencing Laboratories is Transforming Food Safety and Public Health” will discuss one of the outbreaks where Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) provided the lead in a 2015 Virginia sprout outbreak.

    Presented by:
    Marc Allard, PhD
    Research Microbiologist
    FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition

    In 2012, a pilot project, now a mature network called GenomeTrakr, was set up at the national level using WGS data to track foodborne outbreaks. In this network, public health agencies collect and publicly share WGS data in real time. This high-resolution, rapidly growing database is being used in outbreak investigations at the state, national, and international level. Learn more about this presentation.

    Dr. Marc W. Allard is a Senior Biomedical Research Services Officer in the Division of Microbiology in FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Nutrition. He specializes in both phylogenetic analysis, as well as the biochemical laboratory methods that generate the WGS information.

    Thursday, July 13, 2017             
    1:00pm, EST
    Register here for the webcast. 

    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. 

  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    The MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has identified a way to simplify and expedite the IRB process with the discontinuation of the PEER database.

    What is the Current Process?

    The PEER database is a local MedStar database used to check research staff for up-to-date training. Currently, ORI staff receives reports from CITI and manually enters that data into the PEER database. When a personnel change is needed, research staff must go into the PEER system to look up the PEER number and copy-paste that number in the IRB form. Upon receipt, ORI staff looks up the individual to verify their PEER number. If a PEER number is not found, then ORI staff goes to CITI to see what courses are missing. Notice is sent to the researcher of missing training.

    Why the Change?

    Checking two sources and updating the PEER database is duplicative work for ORI staff, adding administrative burden to processing reviews. Removing the PEER number lookup will save time for both researchers and ORI staff for personnel changes.

    So What Happens Now?

    For investigators, finding and providing your PEER number in IRB forms will no longer be required.

    Training through CITI will still be required. Investigators will continue to go directly to https:/// to complete required courses. ORI will check for training compliance by looking up training directly with CITI.

    Forms submitted with a missing PEER number will not be sent back by ORI. Currently, changes are underway to update ORI website removing references to PEER and ORI submission forms will be updated to remove the fields requesting entry of a PEER number.

    The training approval period has been changed in CITI to match the 3-year period that was in the PEER database. Reminders for training expirations continue to be sent from the CITI database but now will come at 30 days and 7 days prior to training expiration. No additional reminders will be sent from ORI.

    If there is anything you would like us to take a closer look at, please do not hesitate to contact MHRI's Office of Research Integrity at

  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    As announced at the Spring Town Halls, MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) now has corporate support for the Human Resources department. This unified approach to human resources (HR) will allow MHRI to utilize system-wide tools to best benefit our associates.

    Melissa (Mel) Goodrich has joined MHRI as our Corporate Director of Human Resources. She has been with MedStar for nearly four years, starting with Cardiovascular Associates. Goodrich also supports MedStar Health’s Diversified Businesses. “I’m excited to learn about the Research Institute and learn how we can best support all of the associates,” said Goodrich.

    Kathi Edwards has joined MHRI as our Human Resources Business Partner. She will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the MHRI HR department and will be located at the University Town Center offices. Edwards has over 13 years of HR experience. She will be responsible for new hire orientation, training, professional development, associate coaching/mentoring, engagement activities, status changes, and HR communications. She will serve as the point person for Talent Manager, SiTEL, EdAssist, and payroll and benefit questions/inquiries. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be back in a research environment and look forward to working with the brilliant minds here at MHRI,” said Edwards.

    Kelly McNiff, MedStar Health HR Business Partner, will provide additional support for MHRI associates. Susanne Selzer continues to be a valuable member of the HR team and will focus on recruitment, hiring, and selection of qualified talent to join the MHRI team. She will become part of the unified MedStar Health recruitment team, allowing access to the wealth of recruitment resources within MedStar Health.

    Susanne Selzer continues to be a valuable member of the HR team and will focus on recruitment, hiring, and selection of qualified talent to join the MHRI team. She has become part of the unified MedStar Health recruitment team, allowing her access to the wealth of recruitment resources within MedStar Health to support MHRI. Susanne will continue to be located at the UTC offices.

    Karen Wade will continue to serve as a key member of the MHRI Executive Team in her current role as Vice President of Research Administration. In this role, she is responsible for the overall management of the organization in partnership with the Vice President of Research Operations, Mary Anne Hinkson. Guided by the objectives of the organization, she provides leadership, management and the vision necessary to ensure the organization has the proper operational controls, administrative and reporting procedures, and systems in place to effectively support our organizational structure.

    Given the growth and direction of MHRI, this new HR structure will provide the infrastructure necessary to support the MHRI of the future. If you have any questions, please contact the MHRI HR department.

  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    The first class of MedStar Surgical Resident Research Program scholars presented the findings of their research in front of their peers and mentors at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in June.

    “The overall goals of this program are to provide opportunities for our residents to conduct meaningful and structured research experiences and facilitate effective collaboration between MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said Waddah Al-Refaie, MD, director, MedStar-Georgetown Surgical Outcomes Research Center.

    This program was a joint venture between MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) and MedStar Health Academic Affairs, in conjunction with the MedStar-Georgetown Surgical Outcomes Research Center. A research council reviewed the proposals for both the resident scholars and faculty mentors prior to the program launch. The residents were all on clinical rotations while completing this work, working with associates from the MedStar Health Research Institute under the guidance of their mentors. The residents worked closely with associates from the MHRI Department of Biostatistics and Biomedical Informatics, who were instrumental in the data analysis for all four projects. The focus of each research project was determined and planned during the application process in early 2016.

    Michael Sosin, MD, investigated the benefits of nipple-sparing mastectomy in order to fill a gap in clinical knowledge. “Expanding the Safety of Nipple Sparing Mastectomy to High Risk Patients” was a retrospective cohort review, which identified nearly 500 cases that could be evaluated for comparison between high-risk and normal-risk Nipple Sparing Mastectomies. Following the initial analysis into two risk categories, the cohort was reviewed to identify moderate-risk patients. Sosin will be presenting this research as an abstract poster a the fall meeting of the National College of Surgeons. He was mentored by Shawna C. Willey, MD, FACS, Eleni A. Tousimis, MD, FACS, and Troy A. Pittman, MD. Future goals for this research include expanding the data set to include other institution and the potential to create a guide for clinicians to assess their patients.       

    Chris Devulapalli, MD, focused his research on the rates of incisional hernias through a retrospective cohort study. Incisional hernias can be a common problem, with a reported incidence in nearly 20% of abdominal surgeries. This research helps to fill a gap in knowledge, as rates of incisional hernias in a high-risk cohort of cancer patients is poorly described in literature. The study, “Incisional Hernias Following Major Abdominal Cancer Operations,” sought to identify predictors of incisional hernias for those patients undergoing one of four procedures. After categorizing patients based on operations, the research showed no statistical difference in repair rates for each group. Following this, the surgeries were categorized with as malignant or benign in order to further track potential risk factors. Parag Bhanot, MD of the Department of Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital was Devulapalli’s mentor for this research.

    Filipe Carvalho, MD, PhD, researched the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to treat patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in American men. The research, “Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Radical Cystectomy Outcomes for Bladder Cancer”, identified a 5915 patient cohort. The research identified patient-related variables to receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy, include the location of medical treatment, social-ecomimic class and geographical location. While neoadjuvant chemotherapy is shown to help increase survival rates for bladder cancer patients, the research showed that nearly 70% of patients do not receive it as part of their care. This research can lead to future work in education for urologists on the benefits of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for their patients. Carvalho was mentored by Keith Kowalczyk, MD, Department of Urology, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    Conor F. Hynes, MD, sought to fill a gap in knowledge on thoracic cancers, as there is no current literature on the T-cell populations in esophageal cancer. This information can be used by treating cancers through individualized therapy for patients that is tied to their t-cells, a key to immune responses. The study, “Optimizing prognostics for thoracic malignancies through analysis of local immune cell contexture”, utilized univariate analysis to initially classify the tissue samples, followed by a multi-variable analysis. As this was a small cohort study, their current data set is small but leads to large future ideas. Hynes was mentored by M. Blair Marshall, MD, Chief of Thoracic Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    The MedStar-Georgetown Surgical Outcomes Research Center is a coalition of surgeons, other clinicians, and scientists committed to contributing to the scientific mission of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Health by advancing the efficient and effective delivery of surgical care in the United States. 

  • June 30, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who were published in June 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. Identifying influential individuals on intensive care units: using cluster analysis to explore culture.
      Journal of Nursing Management, 2017. DOI: 1111/jonm.12476
      Fong A, Clark L, Cheng T, Franklin E, Fernandez N, Ratwani R, Parker SH
    2. Stroke Lesions in a Large Upper Limb Rehabilitation Trial Cohort Rarely Match Lesions in Common Preclinical Models.
      Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, DOI: 10.1177/1545968316688799
      Edwardson MA, Wang X, Liu B, Ding L, Lane CJ, Park C, Nelsen MA, Jones TA, Wolf SL, Winstein CJ, Dromerick AW
    3. Chronic arsenic exposure and risk of carotid artery disease: The Strong Heart Study.
      Environmental Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.05.020
      Mateen FJ, Grau-Perez M, Pollak JS, Moon KA, Howard BV, Umans JG, Best LG, Francesconi KA, Goessler W, Crainiceanu C, Guallar E, Devereux RB, Roman MJ, Navas-Acien A
    4. Quantifying Language Before and After Instituting Structured CT Reports.
      Journal of the American College of Radiology, 2017. DOI: 1016/j.jacr.2017.04.032
      Ross SL, Ascher SM, Somwaru AS, Filice R
    5. Mass-Gathering Medical Care in Electronic Dance Music Festivals.
      Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 2017. DOI: 10.1017/S1049023X1700663X
      FitzGibbon KM, Nable JV, Ayd B, Lawner BJ, Comer AC, Lichenstein R, Levy MJ, Seaman KG, Bussey I