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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 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Through the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), MedStar Health has joined a group of eight institutions committed to bringing together academics, research and clinical activities to advance the health of their communities.

    Through a series of workshops over three years, the group will plan and evaluate strategies to produce coordinated systems for community health. The workshop series, Building a Systems Approach to Community Health and Health Equity for Academic Medical Centers, is closely tied to MedStar Health Research Institute’s mission to advance the health of our community through research.

    Each participating institution will contribute a team of up to six individuals, who will forge enduring collaborations to facilitate health equity in their communities. Participants have been chosen based on demonstrated evidence of ongoing collaboration across the clinical, research and educational spheres in their communities.

    As a community-focused academic health system with a partnership with Georgetown University that allows medical students to train in our diverse hospital settings, MedStar Health stands out in this forum.

    “MedStar’s position at the crossroads of a ‘real world’ clinical and academic environments allows us to catalyze innovation and provide the latest advances to our patients,” said Neil Weissman, MD, president of MHRI. “With more than 300 sites of care, we are embedded in our diverse community and are committed to our communities’ health.”

    The AAMC is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. This research is sponsored through a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    View the AAMC news release here.

  • January 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    January 1 opens the mid-year check-in period and Talent Manager has been updated to a new version. The update for Talent Manager includes options for customization and accessibility.

    Talent Manager now allows you to customize your homepage tiles, with links to resources that you can chose. Additionally, there is a search feature on the top of each page that allows you to quickly access information. Your username and password remain the same, but you will be required to answer security questions when you first log onto the system.

    During the Mid-Year check-in period, managers will be holding meetings with associates to review goals, progress and expectations. Beginning on January 1, associates will be able to complete their mid-year review.

    The goal of the mid-year check in is for managers and associates to have dialogue about what is going well and opportunities for growth and learning. In preparation for this meeting, be sure to be familiar and ready to discuss performance goals set for FY17 and how you can achieve them together, as well as any thoughts or ideas you may have regarding your own professional growth.

    The mid-year form in Talent Manager will be accessible for associates to complete a self-evaluation until January 16. After this date, the form is automatically routed to the manager. If you have any changes or additions to your self-evaluation after it has been sent to your manager, you are now able to make additional comments without it being routed back to you. This new feature allows for Talent Manager to foster the collaborative environment that we have at MHRI.

    For more information on the new features in Talent Manager, please consider viewing the courses listed below on SiTELMS.

    1. Using Talent Manager if You’re a Leader
    2. Using Talent Manager if You’re an Associate

    If you have any questions regarding the mid-year check-in process or new Talent Manager, please contact

  • January 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Abstract submissions for the sixth annual MedStar Health Research Symposium will open on January 6. The MedStar Health Research Symposium brings together associates from across the system to feature research completed throughout the community. From health services research to clinical research to translational science, all MedStar Health providers, researchers, residents, and fellows are encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation. Submissions will be open until February 13.

    Hosted by the MedStar Health Research Institute each year, for the first time, the Symposium will also be home to the first system-wide Resident Research Day. On Monday, May 1, 2017, join us at the Bethesda North Marriott & Conference Center to learn more about research at MedStar.

    Learn more about the Symposium at Communications will be forthcoming with specifics regarding abstract submission guidelines.

  • January 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all researchers who were published in December 2016. The selected works and the link out to PubMed is the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals. This 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.

    Selected research:

    1. Our current approach to root cause analysis: is it contributing to our failure to improve patient safety?
      BMJ Quality & Safety, December 2016. DOI: 1136/bmjqs-2016-005991
      Kellogg KM, Hettinger Z, Shah M, Wears RL, Sellers CR, Squires M, Fairbanks RJ.
    2. Team Training and Institutional Protocols to Prevent Shoulder Dystocia Complications.
      Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology, December 2016. DOI: 1097/GRF.0000000000000231
      Smith S.
    3. Time to Diagnostic Evaluation After Mammographic Screening in an Urban Setting.
      Journal of Women’s Health, Decmber 2016. DOI: 1089/jwh.2015.5661
      Oppong BA, Dash C, Coleman T, Torres T, Adams-Campbell LL.
    4. Acute Sexual Assault in the Pediatric and Adolescent Population.
      Journal of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, December 2016. DOI: 1016/j.jpag.2015.05.001
      Trotman GE, Young-Anderson C, Deye KP.
    5. For Adults With Nausea and Vomiting in the Emergency Department, What Medications Provide Rapid Relief?
      Annals of Emergency Medicine, December 2016. DOI: 1016/j.annemergmed.2016.02.041
      Meltzer AC, Mazer-Amirshahi M.

    View the full list of publications on here.

  • January 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Kenneth D. Burman, MD, was recognized at the American Thyroid Association (ATA) annual meeting as the 2016 recipient of the John B. Stanbury Thyroid Pathophysiology Medal.

    Kenneth Burman, MD
    Kenneth D. Burman, MD

    The John B. Stanbury Thyroid Pathophysiology Medal is awarded annually by the ATA to recognize outstanding research contributions, either conceptual or technical, to the understanding of thyroid physiology or the pathophysiology of thyroid disease, as evidenced by having a major impact on research or clinical practice related to thyroid diseases.

    Dr. Burman is the director of the Endocrine Section at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC). He joined MWHC in 1994. Dr. Burman has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, including the first comprehensive guidelines for the treatment and management of anaplastic thyroid cancer. In addition to his commitment to research at MedStar, Dr. Burman has served as the chair for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Endocrine Advisory Committee.

    His commitment to treating thyroid disease has led Dr. Burman to serve as the president of the ATA and to be an editorial board member of Thyroid and deputy editor of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

    One of the most common disorders of the endocrine system, thyroid disease is estimated to affect 20 million people in the United States. The thyroid gland produces hormones that help to regulate body temperature; control the way the body uses energy; and allow brain, heart, and other muscles and organs to work efficiently and effectively.

    The ATA is the leading global organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer.

  • January 01, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Throughout December, MHRI associates came together to celebrate the end of another successful year and recognize associates who have reached milestone years of service with MedStar.

    Hosted at three locations by the Associate Engagement Committee, each celebration brought together leadership and associates to recognize pride in our work and pride in our team. Embracing our theme, “MHRI Team Pride: Together Everyone Achieves More,” associates worked together to create a relaxing atmosphere and festive space.

    Recognizing that research is a team sport led to a collaborative video, highlighting many MHRI departments around MedStar and what teamwork means to them.

    Many thanks to all the associates who assisted with planning, set-up, and clean up at each location. Your efforts made the events a success! Also, many thanks to all associates who donated to Toys for Tots. More than 100 toys were donated for children in need this holiday season.

    Congratulations to our service award recipients for your years of dedicated service to MedStar. Your work and support allow us to continue our commitment to advancing health in our community.

    15 Years of Service

    • Janice Fowler
    • Claude Nogay
    • Judith Raqueno
    • Manon Schladen

    10 Years of Service

    • Alison Archer
    • Crystal Bland
    • Angelia Clark-Green
    • Michele Lee Clements
    • Sandra Griffin
    • Alan Monath
    • Joanna Peterson

    5 Years of Service

    • Elizabeth Bond
    • Sameer Desale
    • Patricia Evans
    • Vladimir Masati
    • Jose Pineda
    • Nick Prindeze
    • Monique Richburg
    • Eshetu Tefera