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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 02, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    There is a new treatment option for those who suffer from vein problems: the VenaSeal™ Closure System.

    How it works:

    1. A small amount of a medical bonding agent is injected to seal off the diseased veins
    2. Blood reroutes itself around the sealed-off area, through your healthy veins, restoring normal flow
    3. Symptoms often improve immediately
    4. The bonding agent is naturally absorbed by your body over time


    • Symptoms often improve as soon as the diseased vein is closed
    • Recovery time is quick and many patients return to normal activity right after the procedure
    • Minimal pain during and after the procedure as compared to radiofrequency or laser ablation, due to avoidance of multiple needle sticks
    • Minimal post-procedure bruising as compared to radiofrequency or laser ablation, due to avoidance of a large amount of numbing medication
    • Compression hosiery is not required pre- or post-procedure
    • Minimal chance of nerve damage as compared to other current ablation methods, due to the avoidance of thermal heat

    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute is the first in Washington, D.C., and Maryland to offer this new therapy.

    For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call


    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Misaki Kiguchi, MD

    Misaki Kiguchi, MD
    MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

    Misaki Kiguchi, MD, is a board-certified vascular specialist with special interest and experience in treating vein disorders. A graduate of Yale University School of Medicine, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and its Magee-Womens Hospital, Dr. Kiguchi has extensive training in the complete spectrum of arterial and venous diseases. Dr. Kiguchi specializes in vein disorders, using the most advanced and effective treatments and therapies.

    Misaki Kiguchi, MD

    To discuss your unique condition and possible risks,
    call 202-877-3627 to schedule a consult with Dr. Kiguchi at her Chevy Chase office.


  • June 01, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Blue Light Cystoscopy: A Better Way to Detect Bladder Cancer

    Bladder cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States with a high rate of recurrence. Unfortunately, up to 30% of bladder tumors are overlooked, because they are often too small to see with the standard testing method called cystoscopy.

    Fortunately, a new, FDA-approved method now available at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is helping doctors identify bladder tumors earlier thanks to better imaging. The technology is called Blue Light Cystoscopy with Cysview®.

    During this test, the patient is given an imaging agent that is absorbed by the cancerous tissue. This causes it to appear fluorescent when exposed to “blue light,” which is created by a special camera and lens. This allows urologists to detect more of the cancer, remove it, and provide treatment to keep it from coming back.





    For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call


    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Lambros Stamatakis MD

    Lambros Stamatakis MD Director, Urologic Oncology MedStar Washington Hospital Center

    Lambros Stamatakis, MD

    To schedule an appointment with Dr. Stamatakis, call 202-877-3627


  • June 01, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    By Brendan Furlong, MD, Chief of Service, Emergency Department, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    The statistics are staggering: More than three-quarters of a million people in the United States experience a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and one American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes, on average.

    With those numbers, it’s easy to understand why the CDC, the National Stroke Association (NSA) and others say that every minute counts when it comes to stroke diagnosis and treatment.

    What is a stroke?

    During a stroke, blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off so brain cells lose oxygen and begin to die. As a result, bodily functions controlled by that area of the brain, such as memory and muscle movement, can be damaged.

    The most common strokes are:

    • Ischemic strokes: When the artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked. Blood clots are a major cause of blockages that lead to ischemic strokes.
    • Hemorrhagic strokes: Whenan artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures, causing excessive pressure that damages brain cells. Conditions that cause a hemorrhagic stroke include high blood pressure and aneurysms.

    A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is the temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain, causing neurologic deficits. When the blood supply is restored, the deficits resolve. A TIA can serve as a warning sign of an impending stroke and should be treated as seriously as a stroke.

    Who is at risk?

    Age is an important risk factor for stroke. Although anyone can experience a stroke, the chance of having one nearly doubles every 10 years after age 55. Men are more likely to experience stroke than women, but women are more likely to die from stroke.

    Know the signs

    It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. In both men and women, according to the CDC, a stroke may appear as:

    • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
    • Inability to walk, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination
    • Severe headache with no known cause

    stroke prevention
    Eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help prevent stroke.

    Stroke Prevention

    The key to stroke prevention is to understand and manage your risks. Some causes of stroke, such as genetics and family history, cannot be controlled. But you can take steps to manage many common medical conditions that increase your risk, including:

    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Heart disease
    • Atrial fibrillation
    • Diabetes

    Managing these conditions and making healthy choices—eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption—can help prevent stroke.

    If you or someone else experiences any symptoms of stroke, call 911 immediately and get to a specialized stroke center, if possible. Prompt emergency care, whether to prevent another stroke or treat side effects of stroke, can ensure the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment.

    Make an Appointment

    For more information or to schedule an appointment with a stroke specialist, call our scheduling line:


    Learn More

    Act FAST

    The FAST acronym, standing for “Face, Arms, Speech, Time” can improve detection and prompt treatment for stroke.

    FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange? TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

  • May 31, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Rocco A. Armonda, MD, is director of Neuroendovascular Surgery for MedStar Washington Hospital Center
  • May 31, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults 65 years and older receive two vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease, up from the previous recommendation of only one.

    Pneumococcal infections may range from sinus infections to pneumonia, which is one of the leading killers of older adults in the United States.

    Historically, adults over 65 without certain health complications were instructed to receive the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) after turning 65. Now, they are encouraged to also get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13). These two vaccines work in different ways to expand protection against pneumococcal infection.

    Healthy adults older than 65 who have never been vaccinated should first get the PCV13, then the PPSV23 one year later. For those that have previously been vaccinated with PPSV23, the PCV13 is recommended at least one year after the last PPSV23. Adults with certain health conditions may require a different vaccination schedule.

    Dr. Wortmann recommends asking your primary care doctor if this vaccination should be added to your immunizations.

    For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call


    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    Glenn Wortmann

    Glenn Wortmann, MD
    Director, Infectious Diseases
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center

    To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wortmann, or to get a referral for a primary care doctor, call 202-877-3627.

  • May 30, 2016

    By MedStar Health

    Minimally Invasive Treatment for Fibroids

    Jim Robinson, MD, says the most common problem that sends women to their gynecologists is abnormal uterine bleeding. And one of the most common structural reasons for abnormal bleeding is the presence of fibroids. More than 50 percent of all women, and 80 percent of African-American women, have them.

    But this doesn’t mean you should be overly concerned. Dr. Robinson says that fibroids can be taken care of – usually in a minimally invasive way.

    Procedures are usually done on an outpatient basis, using small incisions and precise targeting – which means less pain and a quicker recovery than traditional, open surgery. If you haven’t completed your family, fibroids can be removed through keyhole incisions. If a hysterectomy is the route that you and your doctor choose, Dr. Robinson says that “it isn’t your mother’s hysterectomy – you won’t automatically go into menopause.” Whenever possible, the ovaries are preserved; they create testosterone, which is important for healthy aging. The surgery can be performed through a small incision and is now often an outpatient procedure.

    The goal is to get women back to living their lives in the least disruptive way possible. “It’s important to get you back to the rhythm of your life a bit faster,” Dr. Robinson adds. “That’s something I’m pretty passionate about.”

    For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call


    As heard on WTOP Radio:

    James Robinson, MD, MS, FACOG

    James Robinson, MD, MS, FACOG
    Director, Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center

    To make an appointment, call 202-877-3627