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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: https://bit.ly/3KbVUA1.
    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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  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Join more than 2,000 interventional and endovascular specialists at Cardiovascular Research Technologies Conference (CRT) 2017 for a comprehensive four-day interventional cardiology conference featuring cutting-edge data in a unique boutique setting.

    Attendees will have 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 conferences feature focused educational and training sessions that discuss new trial data, explore evidence-based research, and demonstrate most up-to-date techniques that can be directly applied to clinical and academic practices.

    To learn more about the meeting as a whole, including the agendas, visit www.crtmeeting.org.  

    February 18-21, 2017
    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. Register today.

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MHRI 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 can range from community-focused research to best practices, with the intention of increasing collaboration within the research community within and outside of MedStar Health.

    Individual Motivation and Threat Indicators of Collaboration Readiness in Scientific Teams

    Presented by Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano, EdD, PhD, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, George Washington University

    March 3, 2017
    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

    View the listing of the FY17 Grand Rounds.

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    As announced in early 2016, MedStar Health and Georgetown University are collaborating to implement OnCore, an enterprise-wide Clinical Trials Management System (CTMS).  Well, we are pleased to share with you that OnCore is now fully active and has started to be used for select clinical trials.

    OnCore will serve as a workflow manager and repository of all clinical research administrative and management activities. This new system represents a significant investment in our clinical research infrastructure and will greatly enhance and standardize our clinical trial management activities. In addition, OnCore will provide real-time analytics and reporting capabilities about our research activity across the system.

    What does this mean for MHRI associates? OnCore will be introduced in a phased roll-out approach to allow users more time to learn and adapt to the new system. Associates who are clinical research coordinators, regulatory coordinators, and budget/coverage analysts should expect to see communications regarding future user training sessions, as you are the primary users of OnCore.

    We encourage all associates to support one another during this transition period, especially those colleagues who are most affected. Associates can find more information on StarPort, including documentation, training tools, and dates for training. If you have any questions, please contact Research@MedStar.net.

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    A team of researchers from the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (MNRN) have published their findings on utilizing an objective method of assessing mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Published in Experimental Brain Research, the research was led by Alexander W. Dromerick, MD, Vice President for Research at MNRN, in collaboration with Peter S. Lum, PhD, Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Catholic University of America.

    A TBI is defined as an injury or disruption of brain function due to an external force. TBI is rated by severity, categorized as mild, moderate, or severe based on the length of loss of consciousness, alteration of consciousness and/or mental state, or post-traumatic amnesia. A mild TBI (mTBI) is clinically synonymous with concussion.

    The article, “Dynamic motor tracking is sensitive to subacute mTBI”, showed that grip force metrics could provide a more accurate diagnosis of mTBI. Individuals with and without diagnosed mTBI were asked to squeeze a hand dynamometer, and change their grip force to match a variable target force for 3 minutes. A model of how participants’ changed their grip force in response to error classified mTBI with a sensitivity of 87% and a specificity of 93%, comparable to or better than several standard clinical scales. The same model was also sensitive to time post injury.

    The findings suggest that visuomotor (coordination of movement and visual perceptions) tracking could be an effective supplement to conventional assessment tools to screen for mTBI and track mTBI symptoms during recovery. “Effective screening for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is critical to accurate diagnosis, intervention, and improving outcomes,” the authors said.

    The research team also included Anthony J. Metzger, PhD; Alexander V. Libin, PhD; Jill Terner, MPH; David Milzman, MD from MNRN, in addition to Michael S. Fine, from the MITRE Corporation. Additional researchers were Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Naval Health Research Center and Naval Medical Research Center.

    Dr. Dromerick is also Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine and Neurology and Chairman of Rehabilitation Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center and a Research Scientist at the Washington D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Lum is also Director the Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research at MNRN. He is also a Research Health Scientist at the Washington D.C., Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

    Experimental Brain Research, 2016. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-016-4714-5

    This research was funded through the following: Dromerick AW, Lum PS, Tractenberg R, Libin AV: “Grip force control as a diagnostic tool for mild TBI. Naval Health Research Center W911QY-09-D-0041

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all researchers who were published in January 2017. The selected work 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 all the authors this month and we look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on PubMed.gov here.

     Selected research:

    1. Viruses are prevalent in non-ventilated hospital-acquired pneumonia.
      Respiratory Medicine. DOI: 1016/j.rmed.2016.11.023
      Shorr AF, Zilberberg MD, Micek ST, Kollef MH.
    2. Subspecialty Influence on Scientific Peer Review for an Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal With a High Impact Factor.
      Obstetrics & Gynecology. DOI: 1097/AOG.0000000000001852
      Parikh LI, Benner RS, Riggs TW, Hazen N, Chescheir NC
    3. Induction of Labor in Women with Oligohydramnios: Misoprostol Compared with Prostaglandin E2.
      American Journal of Perinatology. DOI: 1055/s-0036-1585418
      Kawakita T, Grantz KL, Landy HJ, Huang CC, Kominiarek MA
    4. Naloxone Administration for Suspected Opioid Overdose: An Expanded Scope of Practice by a Basic Life Support Collegiate-Based Emergency Medical Services Agency.
      Journal of American College Health. DOI: 1080/07448481.2016.1277730
      Jeffery RM, Dickinson L, Ng ND, DeGeorge LM, Nable JV
    5. Long-Term Outcomes of Permanent Cement Spacers in the Infected Foot.
      Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery. DOI: 10.1053/j.jfas.2016.10.022
      Elmarsafi T, Oliver NG, Steinberg JS, Evans KK, Attinger CE, Kim PJ
  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Abstract submissions for the sixth annual MedStar Health Research Symposium are now being accepted. The MedStar Health Research Symposium brings together associates from across the system to feature research completed throughout the community. All MedStar Health providers, researchers, residents, and fellows are encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation.

    All abstracts must be submitted through the Symposium Abstract Submission Portal: https://www.confmanager.com/main.cfm?cid=2823. The submission portal closes on Monday, February 13, at midnight. Full submission guidelines are available on the portal. Contact research@medstar.net if you have any questions.

    On Monday, May 1, 2017, join researchers, residents, and fellows at the Bethesda North Marriott and Conference Center for the annual Symposium, now expanded to include the first system-wide resident and fellow research exhibits. Learn more at MedStarResearch.org/Symposium.