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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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  • May 12, 2020

    By Yongwoo Kim, MD

    If you or someone you know experiences the first symptom of a stroke, it’s critical to take action quickly. An immediate call to 911 can mean the difference between life and death, so don’t wait. Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, as well as the number one cause of serious long-term disability.

    To remember exactly what to do if you suspect a stroke—and to get help right away—use the download included with this blog post to create your personal BE FAST Stroke Checklist. The checklist includes essential information about what to do and gives you a place to record important information you’ll need to share with emergency medical personnel—so you don’t waste precious time.

    Simply download the checklist, fill it out, and store it where you can access it quickly if needed.

    To remember exactly what to do if you suspect a #stroke—and to get help right away—download this stroke checklist, suggests Dr. Yongwoo Kim. https://bit.ly/3fFUGxZ @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    Frequently, a stroke will happen without warning, but here are some main risk factors to be aware of:

    • Being age 65 or older (nearly 75% of strokes occur in this age group, and risk increases with age)
    • Having a history of previous stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or heart attack
    • Having health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, or other heart or vascular disease
    • Smoking, drug use (particularly cocaine), lack of exercise, and/or excess weight
    • Having a family history of stroke or ethnicity (African Americans and Native Americans are at higher risk than white, Hispanic, or Asian Americans)

    Signs of a Stroke

    If you or someone else suddenly displays any of these signs (even one), call 911 immediately.

    Balance—Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination? Is the person leaning to one side or staggering when walking?

    Eyes—Is vision suddenly blurred, doubled, or otherwise impaired in one or both eyes?

    Face—Is one side drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile to see if it’s uneven.

    Arm—Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms to see if one drifts downward.

    Speech—Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, such as “The sky is blue.”

    Time to call 911—Get immediate medical attention, even for one of these symptoms, and even if it/they go away. Do not drive to the emergency room.

    Why Acting Fast Is So Important

    Most strokes occur when the body produces a blood clot that travels and then lodges in one of the brain’s blood vessels. When a clot blocks the flow of blood, the affected brain tissue begins to die rapidly. Every second, millions of brain cells die. Within about 4.5 hours from the onset of that blockage, there will be no brain cells alive to save.

    That’s why it’s so important to act quickly! You must get treatment—either intravenous medicine or surgery—to clear the blockage as soon as possible. As doctors, we say, “time is brain": every minute counts toward saving as many brain cells as possible.

    To get proper treatment as fast as possible, always call 911 when you suspect a stroke. Emergency medical responders can assess you and alert the hospital of your stroke status, so the medical staff is prepared to act as soon as you arrive. And an ambulance can get you there most quickly. In a few cities today, ambulance workers are even equipped to perform some initial imaging while you’re headed to the hospital, helping to save even more precious time and brain cells.

    Be Ready to Share the Following Information

    For the 911 operator

    • The word “stroke”: Be immediately clear that the affected person (you or someone you’re with) might be having a “stroke.” That insight will immediately tell the dispatcher what kind of help to send. Remember: 911 centers often handle more than medical emergencies.
    • Your address, including cross streets or landmarks if it’s hard to find: Make it as easy as possible for an ambulance driver to find you.

    For the emergency medical responders

    • Details about the stroke symptom(s), including the time they started: The exact start time is key to helping doctors know what treatments may work best for the patient. If you’re not sure, tell the response team the last time things seemed normal (e.g., just before going to bed last night at 11 p.m.)

    With the hospital medical team

    • Current list of medicines, conditions, and details of recent surgeries or hospitalizations: Having this list handy can help emergency physicians more quickly determine how best to assess and treat the affected person

    What to Do—and Not Do—While Waiting for Help

    DO:

    • Unlock the front door
    • Secure any dogs or other pets that might get in the way
    • Turn on an outside light by your front entrance
    • Stay calm and by the affected person’s side

    DO NOT:

    • Offer the affected person any food or drink
    • Give the affected person any medicines, especially not aspirin. While most strokes are caused by blood clots, some are caused by a broken vessel that causes the brain to bleed. In that case, aspirin could be harmful.

    How to Choose a Preferred Hospital Stroke Center for After-Stroke Care

    When it comes to stroke, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To identify causes of your stroke and to establish the best stroke prevention, make sure to choose a hospital recognized as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission—a prestigious designation that MedStar Washington Hospital Center (along with several other U.S. hospitals) has earned for its focus on providing a high level of care for patients with the most severe and challenging types of strokes.

    Do some research and ask your healthcare providers which stroke centers in your area have an established track record for high-quality, cutting-edge stroke care. You should also consider a hospital within your health insurance network.

    Industry awards are another good indicator of quality. MedStar Washington Hospital Center has earned several of these, including a recent Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award and Target: Stroke Honor Roll from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Our center earned these special recognitions 1) for our exceptional speed in treating eligible patients with essential clot-busting therapies once they arrived and 2) for being one of the few stroke centers in the country to employ a dedicated brain MRI machine to more accurately assess incoming stroke patients and identify optimal treatments for them.

    I invite you to learn more about our Comprehensive Stroke Center Program here.

    Be prepared in case of stroke.

    Download and save our stroke checklist.

  • May 08, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Managing cancer is a constant battle. As with all serious illnesses, cancer patients have critical needs that can’t wait. And the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t change that.

    Although the virus surge calls for new approaches to how we deliver care, it will not stop us from doing so. We are working tirelessly to design new protocols that ensure that all of our cancer patients have access to the life-saving treatments they need, in the safest possible environment.

    What we know

    COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, meaning it’s brand new in the environment. Medical science hasn’t yet had the time to fully research it, and we’re still compiling hard data on the nature of the virus. Clues to its inner workings are yet to be unlocked.

    At this stage, it’s hard to predict exactly how the virus may affect individual cancer patients. But what we do know from experience is that many cancer treatments can suppress the immune system, which may leave patients more susceptible to infection.

    The disease presents among cancer patients as it does within the general population: some will experience severe symptoms; some will not, regardless of how advanced their cancer is. Although data are in short supply, our mission is certain: we do all we can to protect every patient.

    The pandemic is changing the way we deliver cancer care, but every patient who needs care is getting it. All you need to know, from Dr. Christopher Gallagher. https://bit.ly/3fxQMaq via @MedStarWHC.

    Click to Tweet

    Taking decisive action

    Our Washington Cancer Institute is taking decisive steps to protect our patients. Social distancing is the best tool we all have, and we take it exceptionally seriously here.

    For inpatient care:

    • We continue to perform critical cancer surgery, with the most pressing cases taking precedence. Some ancillary surgeries are being deferred—for example, breast reconstruction following cancer surgery—although surgery to treat tumors continues.
    • Visitors to the Cancer Institute are limited.
    • We have created a special sanctuary area for inpatients with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients. Stringent protective and preventive measures are in place to protect this area.

    For outpatient care:

    • Every cancer outpatient is pre-screened for symptoms before being cleared to visit the clinic.
    • Again, other visitors are not permitted. Fortunately, friends and family members have stepped up to embrace this potentially difficult policy. They understand how important it is.
    • Exposure to multiple providers is kept to an absolute minimum.
    • Walk-in patients are not admitted.
    • We have removed some chairs from waiting rooms to allow space for social distancing, and we’re staggering appointments to reduce waiting time and limit exposure.
    • We are combining as many services as possible, such as lab work and imaging studies, to minimize multiple visits.
    • Masks are strongly recommended for everyone—and offered to providers and patients alike.

    And, of course we screen ourselves regularly as well, to ensure our healthcare team stays healthy.

    As situations change, many other resources are available including social workers, nurse navigators and financial navigators. For example, the coming months may be difficult for those whose work has been affected by the shutdown. We can help manage access, scheduling, insurance and other details during this “new normal.”

    The promise of technology

    We are fortunate to have sophisticated telemedicine technology during the crisis. We utilize MedStar eVisit as much as possible throughout the continuum of care. Patients on oral chemotherapy, for example, can be monitored via eVisit from the safety of their homes.

    Telemedicine can be especially useful for the initial appointment after a cancer diagnosis. That office visit can be emotionally difficult for the patient under normal circumstances, and even harder to handle during the pandemic when a family member or friend cannot accompany them. But with telemedicine, the patient can include as many people as they would like, to help them absorb the news and process information. Family members are encouraged to write down questions for subsequent eVisit sessions.

    Although not perfect, telemedicine works very well and allows the patient to get the attention they need while limiting exposure to others.

    If you need treatment

    Anxiety over COVID-19 is completely understandable. Each week, I encounter patients nervous about coming to the hospital for their much-needed treatments. Fortunately, in almost every case, their worries diminish when they learn about all the extra measures we take to keep them safe.

    We have put stringent protocols in place and are following them to the letter. If you need treatment, evaluation or consultation for a new or established cancer diagnosis, know that we are taking patient safety very seriously. If possible, please don’t consider skipping a treatment—your health depends on it.

    If you are participating in a clinical trial, moving forward will depend on the parameters of the trial and your unique situation. Discuss it with your doctor.

    If you experience a medical emergency, our healthcare team is on-call around the clock seven days a week, reachable by phone or eVisit. Because emergency rooms throughout our region are busier than ever, your best course of action in an emergency is to contact the team before making the trip. They know what questions to ask to determine if you should come in. Making that call is one more way to keep yourself and your family members safe.

    Protecting yourself

    In or out of the hospital, everyone should follow the guidelines the healthcare community has been recommending since the crisis began. The rules are the same for cancer patients.

    Maintain social distancing, stay at home as much as possible, refrain from touching your face, and wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer when you’re away from running water. Covering your face with a cloth or surgical mask in public spaces is also a good idea. If we all follow the guidelines, we will better protect one another.

    Silver linings

    This coronavirus outbreak will advance our knowledge and increase our readiness for public health emergencies. Many of the scenarios we’ve considered and drilled for at the hospital are the new reality. Every member of the healthcare team stays on top of current research, guidelines and recommendations, and inter-team collaboration is at an all-time high.

    In cancer care, the large medical academies and societies issue new guidelines frequently. Our team reviews this guidance carefully, and shares it to keep team members sharp and prepared as the situation evolves.

    Oncology and hematology are also at the forefront of research toward prevention and treatment. Modern cancer care is often focused on immunology—the study of how the immune system helps fight cancer. That puts the cancer care team in the pipeline for new information on this disease.

    What you can do

    During challenging times, healthcare professionals are good at learning new things and multitasking. The current health crisis is putting those skills to the test. We must provide needed care, manage increasing volume, master new technologies, stay up on new developments, and care for our own homes and families.

    You can help by following all of the recommended guidelines, keeping yourself and your family safe, and consuming and sharing accurate information from trusted sources. We consider every interaction with a patient or family member to be a new opportunity for teaching—and education is one of the most powerful tools we can use to combat this virus.

    Together, we’ll relieve pressure on the healthcare system, get back to normal social discourse, and save more lives.

    Questions about cancer care?

    Reach out to our specialists.

    Call 202-788-5267 or  Request an Appointment

  • May 07, 2020

    By Andrew Riddle, MSN, RN

    If you’re a nursing professional looking for new challenges and an opportunity to advance your skills, look no further than MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Our award-winning, 912-bed teaching and research hospital is among the 100 largest hospitals in the country and renowned for handling the region’s most complex cases.

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, nursing isn’t just a job, it’s a solid career path. In fact, our 2,000+ nursing colleagues include care providers, clinicians, researchers, educators, and others who nurture and support each other while providing superior care for our patients.

    Nurses today have the benefit of many workplace options to choose from, but if you’re interested in in-patient and ambulatory care, I encourage you to explore MedStar Washington Hospital Center for the many opportunities we offer to grow your nursing career.

    Here are some compelling reasons why nurses choose us:

    1. You Can Begin with a Highly Regarded Nurse Residency Program

    This first-year residency program, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), is for nurses new to professional practice. It guides them in transitioning to this role and prepares them for the challenges. More than 60% of our nurses have less than three years’ experience, which illustrates the popularity and opportunities of our residency program.

    We immerse new nurses in topics such as engaging in professional collaboration, integrating research- and evidence-based insights into our practices, and practicing through a lens of safe, patient-centered care. At the end of the 12-month program, each nurse engages in an evidence-based practice project that can allow them to contribute innovations or improvements to patient care on their units.

    2. You Can Move Ahead with Advanced Training for Specialty Nursing Care

    Through our bridge programs, nurses can build upon their general nursing skills with hands-on training in specialty nursing care.

    Opportunities are available within all our specialty areas, with our greatest need currently in our operating rooms and the emergency department. We also are seeking to hire or develop nurses for our women’s and infant’s care, critical care, surgical recovery room, medical-surgical services, and behavioral health service lines.

    These training programs focus on providing nurses with clinical knowledge and experience in addition to offering guidance in relevant technologies, so they’re well prepared to deliver top-notch care.

    There’s always room to evolve and try new paths at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, and we encourage and support that professional development. Once you start your career here, you will find it fulfilling to stay!

    See the top reasons why nurses in MD, VA, and DC choose to work at MedStar Washington Hospital Center https://bit.ly/2Ws92ZJ @MedStarWHC

    Click to Tweet

    3. You Have Flexibility to Explore and Pursue New Roles Throughout Your Career

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, there are limitless opportunities for nurses at all experience levels to grow, so there's no need to remain in one role.

    Perhaps you’ll aim to become a senior nurse on the medical surgical unit who mentors and supports new nurses coming into the profession. Or maybe you’re considering becoming a nurse practitioner with one of our medical teams. Or a certified registered nurse anesthetist, nursing leader, nurse educator, or clinical specialist. Our strong commitment to flexible, adaptable career paths means you’ll have the chance to find fulfillment in many ways here.

    If you’re not quite sure whether a new role would be a good fit, our Professional Development Council can enroll you in our Follow Me program. This program allows you to shadow a nurse in a specialty area and meet other nurses and staff members who can give you a better understanding of what the role entails and what additional training may be needed. You’ll emerge better informed to make decisions about your career path.

    4. You’ll Be Part of a Hospital Nationally Recognized for Exceptional Nursing Care

    Our recent recognitions include:

    • Silver Beacon Award for Excellence—American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN): This award recognizes our Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit caregivers for successfully improving patient outcomes and aligning practices with AACN Healthy Working Environment Standards, among other criteria that support high-quality care.
    • PRISM Award®—Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses: Our Medical oncology/hematology unit is one of 42 medical units worldwide to receive this recognition for exceptional nursing practice, leadership, and outcomes.
    • Pathway to Excellence®—American Nurses Credentialing Center: This designation honors our working environment, where nurses’ contributions are valued, professional development is supported, and nurses are integral to decision-making. We have specific processes in place that empower our nurses to meet or exceed quality outcome indicators, such as reduced hospital infections, pressure injuries, and falls.
    • NICHE ‘Exemplar Status’ Recognition: Our Hospital Center’s nursing units received this highest level of recognition for their exceptional care of older patients. We provide a solid foundation of education and training to support nursing for this important patient group, including a focus on special health needs, pharmaceutical management of the elder, and holistic care.

    View more of our MedStar Washington Hospital Center awards and recognitions.

    5. You’ll Work as Part of a Highly Coordinated Care Team

    Whether at the bedside or at the highest levels of leadership at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, our team members understand that our mission, first and foremost, is to serve our patients. We find a very collaborative team approach is essential to provide good communication, support all team members’ efforts, and achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.

    As part of this interdisciplinary model of care (IMOC), we schedule time each day on every in-patient nursing unit for different disciplines to come together and coordinate care for each individual patient. Participants may include nurses and nurse leaders, physician leaders, occupational and physical therapists, social workers, pharmacists, and others who collectively discuss the varied care needs of each patient. This allows us to provide truly holistic medical care and to address other patient needs that help them get well, get home, and resume their lives beyond the hospital.

    Not every hospital in this area can offer specialized care to such a complex patient population. But the expertise and collaborative spirit of our nursing team supports us in caring for whatever comes through our doors.

    6. You’ll Enjoy Other Exceptional Benefits

    We offer all our nurses an attractive benefits package, including competitive salaries for the region, 403(b) retirement savings plans with employer matching, a wide variety of medical benefits packages to choose from, tuition reimbursement, flexible paid time off, on-site wellness programs, employee discounts on parking, local events, and other purchases, and an Employee Assistance Program that offers free confidential counseling services to all associates to help them address professional and/or personal issues.

    We also offer an array of unique benefits to support our team members, including our Care for the Caregiver support team, which provides 24-hour support or counseling if you’re experiencing a stressful event or outcome at work.

    We encourage you to explore opportunities with us!

    Ready for a new opportunity?

    Visit our Jobs Portal

  • May 06, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Pregnancy can bring on a mix of emotions for many women. And sometimes, excitement about the baby can be overshadowed by the stress of the unknown, physical discomfort, and life changes.

    It’s perfectly normal to feel some anxiety about what’s to come, especially because of the hormonal shifts happening in your body. Not to mention, all of the changes and uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic certainly doesn’t help. But managing your stress during pregnancy is important to maintaining your health and taking care of your baby.

    The dangers of stress during pregnancy.

    Stress causes your body to release hormones that prepare your body to “fight or flight”. When stress is managed, these hormones dissipate and your body returns to a balanced, healthy state. However, severe stress that lasts can negatively affect your growing baby, increasing your risk of preterm labor or delivering a baby with low birth weight.

    Severe stress while expecting can increase your risk of preterm labor or delivering a baby with low birth weight. Manage your #PregnancyStress with these 5 tips from an OB/GYN expert: https://bit.ly/2LbCk9L #LiveWellHealthy.

    Click to Tweet

     

    Pregnant women with high stress levels are also more likely to seek pain interventions during delivery because they’re unable to tolerate pain the same way they would in a healthy mental state. This can lead to disappointment and frustration if pain intervention wasn’t part of your original birth plan. And, the combination of both stress and a discouraging delivery experience can increase your risk of postpartum depression and anxiety.

    How to manage stress during pregnancy.

    If you’re expecting and overwhelmed, don’t let worry about your stress add to your emotional state. Instead, try these tips to relieve stress so that you and baby can stay as healthy as possible.

    Know the signs of stress.

    It can be hard to recognize when you’re stressed, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with a support network that can bring it to your attention and help determine why. Remember that maintaining social distance doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself. Instead, use technology to stay connected to family, friends, and healthcare providers who can help you monitor your mental health and stress level.

    Everyone reacts differently to being overwhelmed, but chronic stress often results in:

    • Tunnel vision
    • Pounding heart
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Changes to eating patterns (e.g. overeating or not eating enough)

    Once you’ve identified that you’re stressed, tell those around you so they can help you make changes to minimize the stress or seek help from your doctor. Virtually seeing your doctor face-to-face using video visits can also help to identify stress, as your doctor can see nonverbal cues that may suggest it.

    Get answers to any unknown questions.

    One of the most common causes of stress during pregnancy is the fear of what you don’t know. Whether you have questions about pregnancy, worry about symptoms, or uncertainty about how your hospital is safely handling labor, delivery, and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic, seek out the answers you need from reputable sources.

    Questions to ask your doctor about pregnancy care during COVID-19:

    • Should I wear a face mask?
    • What does COVID-19 mean for my scheduled OB check-ups?
    • How is the hospital safely handling lab work?
    • Can I bring my husband or child to the hospital when I’m in labor?
    • What does visitation look like after delivery?
    • Where should I direct questions about pregnancy or breastfeeding?

    Request an Appointment

    The internet can be a helpful resource for finding accurate information about what to expect during pregnancy, especially reliable sources like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, information overload can add to your stress, so do your best to limit how much you read about others’ pregnancy experiences. Focus on your feelings and pregnancy rather than what could (but probably won’t) happen to you.

    Get outdoors and move your body.

    Regular exercise and sunshine are some of the best ways to manage stress during pregnancy and any other life change. From meditative yoga and stretching to low-impact aerobic exercise like walking or swimming, physical activity can help lower cortisol levels that cause anxiety. And, getting some fresh air and vitamin D is a natural way to improve your mood, especially while you’re stuck at home during shelter-in-place mandates. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.

    Try a new hobby.

    The physical discomfort associated with pregnancy may prevent you from doing some of the things that used to bring you joy and relieve stress. It’s important to have activities that can take your mind off of your pregnancy stress, so why not take up a new hobby?

    There are lots of quarantine-friendly ways you can occupy your hands and mind at home. Here are a few ideas that could help you stay stress-free during pregnancy:

    • Painting or drawing
    • Learning a new language
    • Knitting or crocheting
    • Starting a small garden
    • Baking something new

    Practice meditation or controlled breathing techniques.

    Stress can cause you to take shorter, shallower breaths. This can increase your stress because it decreases oxygen in the body. Prenatal yoga, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can be helpful ways to clear your mind and take control of your breathing.

    You don’t have to manage your stress alone.

    Whether you’re managing your stress during pregnancy well at home or you need some additional help, it’s important to stay in touch with your doctor throughout your pregnancy. And, in most cases, you won’t need to leave your home to talk with or see your doctor.

    There are a variety of ways you can stay connected to your doctor from the comfort and safety of your house using telehealth, including:

    • Scheduling a video visit with your doctor
    • Sending your doctor questions in a secure message via a patient portal
    • Calling a nurse hotline
    • Using eVisit when you need a doctor outside of office hours

    Talk to your doctor about the best way to reach them as you manage your stress during pregnancy and COVID-19.

    MedStar Health offers safe and convenient options for staying connected to your healthcare provider during the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out how to schedule a virtual appointment with your provider using MedStar Health Video Visits.

     

    Want to learn more about MedStar Health Video Visits? Click the button below.

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  • May 05, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Frequent handwashing has always been important. But with the emergence of COVID-19, it’s getting more attention now than ever before.

    That’s a good thing. Washing your hands is among the simplest and most effective ways to remove bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens and prevent the spread of many different kinds of illnesses.

    But, the more you wash your hands, the more likely you are to experience dry skin and irritation. The good news: following a careful regimen can keep your skin healthy—and prevent dryness before it causes bigger problems.

    Battling Dryness

    With the current pandemic spurring so much handwashing, our hands are under assault. Dermatologists are seeing an increase in new cases of dry, red, itchy, inflamed skin—a form of eczema known as contact dermatitis.

    We’re also using hand sanitizer at record levels. Almost all hand sanitizers include alcohol as the active ingredient. Alcohol is an effective germicide, but it can irritate dry, cracked and damaged skin, making it even worse.

    It’s a bit of a vicious circle. We clean the hands. That removes the protective oils that hold in moisture. As moisture wicks away, the tissue shrinks and tiny cracks form. It’s the same process that causes earth to crack when the weather is hot and dry.

    Once the skin begins to crack, it sets up the potential for more irritation and even infection. Cracks can bleed or ooze, becoming a virtual Petri dish where bacteria thrive, especially between the fingers.

    With the pandemic encouraging so much handwashing, the hands are under assault. Avoid dry skin and irritation with tips from Dr. Petronic-Rosic. https://bit.ly/2WDC2y7 via @MedStarWHC

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    Moisturize to Protect

    Proper moisturizing is the best way to prevent contact dermatitis caused by soap, sanitizer and other irritants. It’s so important, I carry both hand sanitizer and moisturizer as I go about my day. Anytime I wash my hands or use sanitizer, I apply a moisturizer.

    Wash your hands the way healthcare workers do; lather up and rub all of the surfaces for at least 20 seconds. Then dry your hands thoroughly, preferably with paper towels. If you leave your hands wet, water remaining on the surface can actually wick away more water from beneath the surface as it evaporates—making dryness worse.

    When your hands are clean and dry, apply a moisturizer, preferably free of fragrances. Besides removing natural oils, soap and sanitizer can also strip away the moisturizer you applied earlier. So it’s important to moisturize every time you clean your hands. This is the single most important thing you can do to prevent dryness and irritation. It can even help prevent fingernail dryness.

    When to Sanitize

    Hand sanitizers are convenient for killing germs. But they only work on clean hands. If your hands are soiled—from dusting, cleaning, doing food prep, working in your garden or on your car—you’ll want to make sure you wash them. Sanitizer alone can’t do the job.

    When Irritation Means Something Serious

    Contact dermatitis from frequent handwashing is a common complaint, and managing it is most often straightforward. However, red, dry, irritated, broken or weeping skin on the hands can also be a symptom of more serious conditions, including atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis, among others.

    Seek medical attention if your hands continue to be dry, irritated or painful, even after you adopt a good regimen with mild soap and frequent moisturizing.

    If It Feels Good, Use It

    Everyone is unique. What irritates one person’s skin may feel fine to another. If you use a product that causes discomfort, a reaction or just doesn’t work, try something else.

    Check the label. Generally speaking, the fewer ingredients, the better. I recommend unscented products whenever possible.

    Hand sanitizers are mostly alcohol. But they can contain other ingredients that might irritate—for example, perfumes and acrylates, the chemicals used to make super glue and artificial fingernail products. My advice: if the sanitizer burns, stings, or does not feel good on your hands, try another. That’s easier said than done in an era of limited inventory, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    For cleansers and moisturizers, the brands I like are mild and without potentially troublesome ingredients, including CeraVe®, Cetaphil®, Vanicream™, Aveeno®, Olay®, and Eucerin®. Most Dove soaps contain petroleum jelly, so they tend to be less drying, and fragrance-free varieties are available. A lot of store brands are okay, too. It’s all about what works for you.

    These recommendations are not product endorsements but are based on what has worked for me and my patients over the years.

    Healthy Habits, Healthy Skin

    Beyond moisturizing, you can do more to keep the skin healthy, on the hands and everywhere else. Here are some tips:

    • Excessively hot water can irritate the skin. Cool or warm water is just as effective for handwashing.
    • If you know you will come in contact with harsh chemicals, like bleach or other cleaning products, wear gloves. And be sure to choose gloves that will stand up to the threat. Some chemicals will eat through thin nitrile or vinyl gloves, so you must choose carefully. If the inside of your gloves get wet, wash your hands, dry them, and put on a dry pair.
    • Avoid anything you know your body doesn’t tolerate well. You may be sensitive to latex or lanolin, for example, so keep a sharp eye out for them.
    • Hydration is important for health overall. Everyone’s daily needs are a little different but listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty. Be aware that alcohol and caffeine can stimulate the kidneys and cause you to lose water more quickly, so always include non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages in your daily routine.
    • A balanced diet is important for the skin. A normal, varied diet, adjusted for intolerance and food allergies, helps boost overall health.
    • If you don’t spend any time in the sun, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. This is especially true for those with darker complexions, who need more sun exposure time to make enough of it. To maintain healthy blood levels, aim to get 15–20 minutes of midday sunlight several times per week. People with darker skin and those living in areas with less daylight may need a little more than this. Your exposure time should depend on how sensitive your skin is to sunlight. Make sure to stop before any redness or burning develops, as that means your skin is getting damaged.
    • Exercise, too, plays a role. It’s common sense, really. The skin is a complex system that depends on all the same factors as other organs and structures of the body. The more fit you are, the more fit your skin can be, too. Remember to use sunscreen if your fitness regimen involves outdoor activities.

    At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, we treat a wide range of skin conditions, from common to rare, and are happy to offer the convenience of video visits to address your needs. Our dermatologists’ mission is to help you maintain happy, healthy skin for your entire life.

    Need to see a dermatologist?

    Connect with us from home.

    Schedule your video visit today

  • May 03, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in April 2020. 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 PubMed.gov here.

    1. Pertuzumab, Trastuzumab, and Docetaxel for HER2-positive Metastatic Breast Cancer (CLEOPATRA): End-Of-Study Results From a Double-Blind, Randomised, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 3 Study

      The Lancet Oncology, 2020. DOI: 1016/j.ajem.2020.04.035

      Swain SM, Miles D, Kim SB, Im YH, Im SA, Semiglazov V, Ciruelos E, Schneeweiss A, Loi S, Monturus E, Clark E, Knott A, Restuccia E, Benyunes MC, Cortés J; CLEOPATRA study group.

    1. Outcomes of the Medial Femoral Trochlea Osteochondral Free Flap for Proximal Scaphoid Reconstruction

      Journal of Hand Surgery, 2020. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2019.08.008

      Pet MA, Assi PE, Yousaf IS, Giladi AM, Higgins JP.

    1. MitraClip 30-day Readmissions and Impact of Early Discharge: An Analysis From the Nationwide Readmissions Database 2016

      Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, 2020. DOI: 1016/j.carrev.2020.04.004

      Case BC, Yerasi C, Forrestal BJ, Wang Y, Musallam A, Hahm J, Torguson R, Ben-Dor I, Satler LF, Rogers T, Waksman R.

    1. A Philosophical Approach to the Rehabilitation of the Patient with Persistent Pain

      American Journal of Hypnosis, 2020. DOI: 1080/00029157.2019.1709152

      Appel PR.

    1. Timing of Intervention May Influence Outcomes in Blunt Injury to the Carotid Artery

      Journal of Vascular Surgery, 2020. DOI: 1016/j.jvs.2019.05.059

      Blitzer DN, Ottochian M, O'Connor JV, Feliciano DV, Morrison JJ, DuBose JJ, Scalea TM.