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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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  • October 04, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    As an ER doctor at the largest and busiest emergency department in the nation’s capital, I see patients on a daily basis with a variety of conditions, from broken bones to cuts to those with serious or life-threatening symptoms, such as heart attacks and strokes.

    And as a mother of a two-year-old, safety is of the utmost importance to me and my family, especially in and around my home. The truth is that a large number of accidents do occur in our own homes because we often overlook household appliances or other everyday items that can potentially cause serious injury.

    Below is a list of 10 common household items that can pose significant health and safety threats to adults and children.  Read though the list.  And ask yourself, "Do I really need these items?" If you do, please use them responsibly. When appropriate, keep them locked up and out of reach and out of sight of children.  I hope this list will be helpful in keeping you and your loved ones safe at home.

    1. Unused medications: There are a host of medicines that are “one pill killers” in children; particularly heart and blood pressure medications as well as sedative and pain medications. If you are not using a medication, dispose of it properly or store it up and out of reach. Keep all medications in child-resistant packaging.

    2. Gas space heaters: They can produce the toxic gas carbon monoxide, which can poison an entire household. Using electric heaters and installing carbon monoxide monitors can mitigate the risk. Make sure to check the batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.

    3. Trampolines: Most trampoline accidents happen when people fall off or land wrong while jumping. The most common injuries are extremity fractures that may require surgical treatment. Although surrounding nets can prevent a ground impact from a fall, injury can still occur by landing improperly on the trampoline itself. Children may also injure themselves if they get too close to the spring connectors or if they land in between them.

    4. Swimming pools: Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4. Seventy-five percent of all drowning occur in home swimming pools. Adults can also drown or injure themselves when swimming is combined with alcohol. In addition, improper diving can lead to head and neck injuries. To prevent accidents, stay within arm’s reach of a child at all times in and around the pool, make sure the pool is fenced in, learn how to swim and learn CPR.

    5. Nicotine products: We all know the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but recently, “vaping” has become very popular. Electronic cigarettes vaporize a very concentrated nicotine fluid as an alternative to smoking. Although there are fewer carcinogens in electronic cigarettes, these products contain several solvents and we don’t know the long-term health effects of vaping. E-cigarettes are potentially fatal in the hands of children. The liquid in a single cartridge contains enough nicotine to be lethal to a small child and the flavored products are particularly appealing to this age group.

    6. Choking hazards: Hot dogs, grapes, carrots, apples, nuts, popcorn, or hard candy can be choked on easily. Either avoid these foods or cut them up into small pieces to avoid the risk of choking or aspiration.

    7. Pods:  Laundry pods or dishwasher pods are more concentrated than traditional detergents, which contain large amounts of water and are less toxic. Pod exposures can result in skin and eye irritation, coughing, choking, respiratory distress, and even death. These outcomes are rarely noted with traditional products.

    8. Drain cleaners: These household chemicals are caustic and can cause severe chemical burns to the esophagus or airway, even with a single sip. Discard unused products or keep it in a secure area.

    9. Antifreeze and windshield wiper fluids: These products can appeal to children because of their color and sweet flavor and can be toxic in as little as a few sips. Because of their appealing taste, these fluids may also poison pets. The most common toxicities are renal failure or blindness. Another tip is to not transfer any chemical products into drinking cups. This is a recipe for a mix up.

    10. Button batteries: Because of their small size and shiny appearance, they can be easily ingested by toddlers. In as little as two hours, these batteries can cause severe caustic burns to the esophagus, which can lead to lifelong disability, or even death. Children often do not have any symptoms until the damage has been done. If you have a product that requires a button battery, be sure to place them in a secure area.

    Have any questions?

    We are here to help! If you have any questions about our emergency and trauma care, click here here or call us at 202-877-3627.

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  • October 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) was one of the first institutions to register for a new agreement to facilitate faster start-up times for clinical research sites.

    MHRI administrative staff has been actively involved in national initiatives to standardize research agreements between clinical research sites and sponsors.  In this active role, MHRI has remained on the forefront of finding administrative efficiencies. It is because of this effort that we are proud to be one of the first two institutions to register for the new Federal Demonstration Project Fixed-Price Clinical Trial Sub-Award Agreement. Developed by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) with input from stakeholders, this agreement provides a standard template for federally sponsored multi-center clinical trials involving subcontracting.

    With consistent terms and conditions for all studies, the template can lead to faster startup times for new NIH-funded clinical trials. The template is ideal for use with multi-site studies, as it provides a framework for the full contract, except for the study budget and scope of work.

    The template was created to be used for NIH-sponsored trials with a fixed price for domestic enrollment sites. The template complies with all federal regulations, adheres to Accelerated Clinical Trials Agreement terms when possible, allows for addition of study-specific terms, and provides budget guidance.

    MHRI also is a registered user of the NCATS Accelerated Confidential Disclosure and Accelerated Clinical Trial agreements.

    If you have any questions about the Fixed-Price Clinical Trial Sub-Award agreement, please contact Tina Stanger in MHRI’s Office of Contracts and Grants Management at

  • October 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    The NIH has released a new policy on training in Good Clinical Practices (GCP) for NIH-funded investigators and staff. Effective January 1, 2017, this policy applies to all NIH-funded investigators and clinical trial site staff who are responsible for the conduct, management and oversight of NIH-funded clinical trials.

    GCP training supports investigators in conducting safe, high-quality clinical trials by providing a standard for compliance, implementation, data collection and reporting. It also outlines the responsibilities of institutional review boards (IRBs), investigators, sponsors and monitors in clinical trials. This NIH requirement helps assure that the results from NIH-funded clinical trials are reliable and that participants are protected. Read the full policy on the NIH website.

    All MHRI research investigators and staff performing or involved in biomedical research are required to take CITI GCP training. MHRI provides this training at no cost to investigators. If you have any questions, please contact the MHRI Office of Research Integrity at

  • October 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all researchers who were published in September 2016. There were 76 peer-reviewed studies published in 62 journals that are part of the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates. We look forward to seeing your future research.

    Selected research:

    1. Accuracy of rapid sequence intubation medication dosing in obese patients intubated in the ED.
      American Journal of Emergency Medicine, September 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2016.09.056
      Bhat R, Mazer-Amirshahi M, Sun C, Vaughns J, Dynin M, Tefera E, Towle D, Goyal M.
    2. Coding and Billing in Surgical Education: A Systems-Based Practice Education Program.
      Journal of Surgical Education, September 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2016.08.011.
      Ghaderi KF, Schmidt ST, Drolet BC.
    3. Neuropsychological Assessment of Driving Capacity.
      Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, September 2016. DOI: 10.1093/arclin/acw050
      Wolfe PL, Lehockey KA.
    4. Onyx Embolization of a Meningioma with a Dysplastic Aneurysmal Anterior Cerebral Artery Vessel.
      Cureus, September 2016. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.776
      Felbaum DR, Mueller K, Liu AH, Armonda RA.
    5. Prevention of Painful Neuroma and Phantom Limb Pain After Transfemoral Amputations Through Concomitant Nerve Coaptation and Collagen Nerve Wrapping.
      Neurosurgery, September 2016. DOI: 10.1227/NEU.0000000000001313.
      Economides JM, DeFazio MV, Attinger CE, Barbour JR.

    View the full list of publications on here.

  • October 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Released on September 16, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule on requirements for registering specific clinical trials on and for releasing summary study results to

    On the same day, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a tandem policy for all NIH-funded trials, which includes registering and submitting summary results information to, including studies not included as part of the HHS final rule.

    According to the HHS final rule, most interventional studies of drug, biological and device products that are regulated by the FDA should be registered on The final rule specifies how and when information collected in a clinical trial must be submitted. Important elements of the final rule include:

    • A checklist for evaluating which clinical trials are subject to the regulations and who is responsible for submitting required information
    • Expansion of the scope of trials for which summary results information must be submitted, to include trials involving FDA-regulated products that have not yet been approved, licensed, or cleared by the FDA
    • Additional requirements for trial registration and summary results to be submitted to, including the race and ethnicity of trial participants, if collected, and the full protocol
    • Additional requirements for adverse event information
    • A list of potential legal consequences for non-compliance.

    The NIH policy applies to all NIH-funded trials, including phase 1 clinical trials of FDA-regulated products, small feasibility device trials, as well as projects not regulated by the FDA, such as behavioral interventions.

    This policy applies to all grants/contracts applications and new/competing proposals received by NIH on or after September 16, 2016. MHRI studies that are not considered applicable clinical trials and that are currently funded by an NIH grant are not required to be registered if funded prior to September 16, 2016. However, applicants for new/competing NIH funding are now required to submit a plan with the grant/contract application outlining how they will comply with this new final rule. The Final Rule has a compliance date of 90 days after January 18, 2017, at which time MHRI needs to be in compliance with the requirements of the Rule.

    If you have any questions, please contact Priscilla Adler in the MHRI Office of Research Integrity at

  • October 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Shaunagh Browning, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, Nurse Manager of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences’ Clinical Research Unit has co-authored the Scope and Standards of Practice for Clinical Research Nurses along with three colleagues from the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN). The American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors announced in August that they will now recognize clinical research nursing as a specialty nursing practice.

    Approved by the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses (IACRN), clinical research nursing is “the specialized practice of professional nursing focused on maintaining equilibrium between care of the research participant and fidelity to the research protocol. This specialty practice incorporates human subjects protection; care coordination and continuity; contribution to clinical science; clinical practice; and study management throughout a variety of professional roles, practice settings, and clinical specialties.” According to IACRN, clinical research nurses (CRN) practice globally, their unique body of knowledge consists of specialized training in nursing care, research regulations, scientific process, human subjects protection and data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Through specialty practice, CRNs make important contributions to the clinical research process, quality of the research outcomes and most importantly the safe expert care of research participants.

    The ANA also announced that the scope of practice statement for clinical research nursing was approved and the standards of practice have been acknowledged for a five-year period. These will be co-published by the ANA and the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses in the near future.

    Many thanks to Shaunagh and her colleagues who have worked diligently on behalf of clinical research nurses throughout the country to gain this recognition.