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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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  • February 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MedStar Health Research Institute and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    On behalf of the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and MedStar Health Research Institute, you are invited to Clinical and Translational Research Grand Rounds on Friday, February 7, 2020 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. The speaker this month will be Michael N. Liebman, PhD. The Talk is titled, “Challenges in Dealing with Real-World Data” Grand Rounds will be held at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center CTEC Theater. Lunch will be served at 1pm.

    Dr. Liebman is the Managing Director of IPQ Analytics and Strategic Medicine, Inc. He previously served as Director of Computational Biology and Biomedical Informatics at U Penn, Global Head of Computational Genomics at Roche, Director of Bioinformatics and Pharmacogenomics at Wyeth and Director of Genomics at Vysis. Dr. Liebman's research focuses on computational models of disease progression that stress risk detection, disease processes and clinical pathway modeling, and disease stratification from the clinical perspective. He utilizes systems-based approaches and design thinking to represent and analyze risk/benefit analysis in pharmaceutical development and healthcare.

    Challenges in Dealing with Real-World Data
    Michael N. Liebman, PhD
    Managing Director of IPQ Analytics and Strategic Medicine, Inc

    February 7, 2020

    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, CTEC Theater

    For those located at remote sites and unable to attend in-person, log on to: on February 7, 2020 at 12:00 Noon to hear Dr. Liebman’s presentation.

    If you have any questions regarding the Research Grand Rounds program, please contact

  • February 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Recently published research evaluated whether and how the timing of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) affects the 1-year rate of major adverse cardiac events (MACE) in patients presenting with non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI).  The study sought to describe outcomes in patients presenting with NSTEMI and analyze the data in an effort to assess the outcome of rapid revascularization in patients presenting with NSTEMI.

    “Should Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction be Treated like ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction With Shorter Door-to-Balloon Time?” was published in The American Journal in Cardiology. The collaborative research team included Micaela Iantorno MD, MHS; Evan Shlofmitz DO; Rebecca Torguson MPH; Paul Kolm PhD; Deepakraj Gajanana MD; Nauman Khalid MD; Yuefeng Chen MD, PhD; William S. Weintraub MD; and Ron Waksman MD from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Section of Interventional Cardiology; and Toby Rogers MD, PhD from the MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health.

    In the United States, it is estimated that more than 780,000 persons will experience an acute coronary syndrome and nearly 70% of these will have non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction. The research team identified 1550 patients who underwent PCI for NSTEMI and collected clinical and follow-up data. The patients were divided into 3 groups: “very early” with door-to-balloon time of less than 90 minutes (n=263); “early” between 90 minutes and 24 hours (n=790); and “late” with a time over 24 hours (n=497).

    Within the 3 groups, there were significant differences in baseline characteristics. There was a higher occurrence of co-morbidities and older age in patients who underwent “late” angiograms and increased prevalence of cardiogenic shock and higher troponin levels in the “very early” group. The results of the study show that patients who underwent “late” angiograms had significantly longer lengths of stay, while patients who underwent “very early” angiograms had a significantly higher rate of bleeding. At 30 days, patients who underwent “very early” angiograms had a higher rate of death. At 1-year, higher mortality was seen in the “very early” and “late” patient groups.

    The research team concluded that while it is reasonable that very early revascularization is beneficial in high-risk populations, there are insufficient data to support a very early invasive approach for NSTEMI. Unfortunately, the study cannot definitively answer the question of whether revascularization within 90 minutes will improve outcomes in patients with NSTEMI.

    The American Journal In Cardiology, DOI: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2019.10.012

  • February 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in January 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 here.

    Selected research:

    1. Association Between Surgical Complications and Early Academic Period in Women Undergoing Cesearean Delivery
      The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, January 2020. DOI: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1718648
      Kawakita T, Landy HJ.

    2. The Orsiro ultrathin, bioresorbable-polymer sirolime us-eluting stent: A review of current evidence. Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, January 2020. DOI: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1718648
      Forrestal BJ, Case BC, Yerasi C, Garcia-Garcia HM, Waksman R.

    3. Roles of Lesioned and Nonlesioned Hemispheres in Reaching Performance Poststroke.
      Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, January 2020. DOI: 10.1177/1545968319876253
      Harrington RM, Chan E, Rounds AK, Wutzke CJ, Dromerick AW, Turkeltaub PE, Harris-Love ML.

    4. Using an Evidence-Based Approach for Electronic Health Record Downtime Education in Nurse Onboarding.Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions, January 2020.
      DOI: 10.1097/CIN.0000000000000582
      Sano JM, Alexander S.
  • February 02, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Join the GHUCCTS Community online Monday, February 10, 2020 at 2:00 PM EST to find out how building partnerships can positively impact your research.

    Monday, February 10, 2020

    Webinar: 2 - 3 PM EST
    Q&A: 3 - 3:30 PM EST

    Webinar Goal: Engaging communities and patients throughout the study process can positively impact health research, particularly when addressing complex health problems. These partnerships can also increase competitiveness in research grant applications, as patient and community engagement is a growing expectation among funders. Despite researchers’ interest in building partnerships, they are often uncertain of effective approaches for engagement. Researchers may also be unaware of the most appropriate levels of community or patient involvement in their research, with variations in strength and intensity. 

    This webinar will:

    • describe effective engagement strategies to help improve the quality of research grants and, ultimately, the health of individuals and the general public; and
    • help investigators identify levels of community or patient engagement that is most appropriate for their research

    Learning Objectives 

    Through participation in this webinar, investigators will be able to:

    1. Identify levels of engagement appropriate for their research.
    2. Identify best practices to engage community organizations and patients in health research.
    3. Identify consultative resources for building effective and meaningful partnerships with culturally, racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse communities and patients.

    Audience: Health researchers and research team members

    Register Here

    This webinar is free and open to all. If you are interested in attending but unable to join the call live, please register and a link to the recording will be sent to you after the webinar. Please reach out to with any questions.

  • January 31, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    Nearly one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and it’s the second leading cause of cancer death in women, next to lung cancer. Yet many women ask themselves, “Do I really need to get a mammogram?”

    A mammogram is an imaging test used to screen women for breast cancer. In fact, it’s your best chance of detecting breast cancer early when treatment is most effective.

    That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends that women begin breast cancer screening with mammograms around age 40 and commit to getting yearly mammograms by age 45. While women aged 55 and older may switch to screening every two years or continue annual screening, routine screening every year is the best way to prevent breast cancer.

    A mammogram may not be your idea of fun, but it could mean the difference between life and death. Here are six reasons to get a mammogram—and what to expect when you do.

    1. Cancer or an abnormality can’t always be felt.

    Mammograms can find breast cancer long before you or your doctor would be able to feel a lump in your breast. While breast self-exams are important, you may not feel any changes until a sizable lump has formed. By the time that happens, breast cancer is already growing, spreading, and harder to treat.

    A mammogram can see changes to your breast tissue as small as grains of sand, making it the best tool for detecting cancer as early as possible.

    2. When caught early, breast cancer is 99% curable.

    While mammograms can’t prevent breast cancer, they can help detect it early when there are more treatment options—and before it spreads to other parts of the body. According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected while it’s contained to the breast, the survival rate is 99%.

    The breast cancer survival rate is 99% when detected early, according to @AmericanCancer. Nurse Linda Wieczynski explains this and 5 other reasons to get a #mammogram via @MedStarHealth's #LiveWellHealthy blog.

    Click to Tweet


    3. A mammogram can save your life—and your breasts.

    When breast cancer is detected early, you may not need a mastectomy, or surgical removal of the affected breast(s). Instead, a procedure called a lumpectomy may be used to remove only the cancerous tumor while preserving the healthy tissue around it.

    4. Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you age—even if no one else in your family has it.

    The older you get, the more you are at risk of developing breast cancer. That’s why mammograms aren’t a one-and-done test. It’s important to get screened for breast cancer every year starting at the age of 40.

    While being a woman and advancing age are the most significant risk factors, there are others, including:

    • Obesity
    • Alcohol use
    • Physical inactivity
    • Family history

    However, women without a family history of breast cancer aren’t necessarily in the clear. About 85% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. So even if no one in your family has breast cancer, you are still at risk for developing it yourself.

    5. It only takes 20 minutes of your time.

    It may not be the most comfortable procedure, but a mammogram only takes 20 minutes —and can give you more time with the people you love most.

    6. It’s free for eligible patients.

    We offer free clinical breast exams and mammograms at MedStar Harbor Hospital and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital for women who meet certain criteria.

    You may be eligible for a free mammogram if you are:

    • A woman aged 40 or older
    • A Baltimore City or Baltimore County resident
    • Living on a limited income
    • Uninsured or underinsured

    Linda Wieczynski, RN, BSN, Discusses the Importance of Mammograms


    What should you expect at your first mammogram?

    With a little preparation, your first mammogram can be less stressful than you think.

    Here’s what you can expect:

    • Scheduling your mammogram: If you haven’t started menopause, it’s a good idea to schedule your mammogram for the week after your menstrual period when your breasts are less sensitive.
    • Getting ready: Avoid using deodorants, perfumes, or lotions under your arms or around your breasts, as they can interfere with the picture quality. If you are concerned about feeling discomfort, you may want to take Tylenol before your screening. And, if you are sensitive to caffeine, consider delaying your morning coffee until after your test. In addition, you may want to wear a two-piece outfit instead of a dress, as you’ll remove your top during the screening but can keep everything else on.
    • Arrival: Once you arrive, you’ll answer a few questions about your medical history and your family’s medical history. Then, you’ll change into a gown for the screening.
    • During the exam: A trained technician will place your breast on the flat surface of the mammography machine. They’ll take two images, compressing your breasts from the top first and then the sides. The right amount of compression will help to ensure clear images, which is important for accuracy. You will feel pressure on your breasts, but it shouldn’t be painful. Try to relax during the test, if you can. This will make it more comfortable and easier to get a quality picture.
    • After the exam: Your healthcare provider will follow up with your results in a few weeks. It is common for the first mammogram to reveal new and possibly suspicious findings because they can’t be compared to a previous exam. In most cases, those results are not cancerous. If something abnormal is detected, you’ll come back for a diagnostic mammogram that will take more detailed pictures and possibly, an ultrasound. Your radiologist will review your scans immediately, so you’ll be able to leave with your results.

    Thinking about your first mammogram may be intimidating, but the reasons to get a mammogram far outweigh the temporary discomfort you might feel. After all, it could save your life.

    To find out if you’re eligible for a free breast cancer screening, call (410) 350-2066. Click below to learn about the preventive services and treatments provided by MedStar Health Cancer Network.

    Learn More

  • January 24, 2020

    By MedStar Health

    It’s summer time—meaning a number of sports’ seasons, such as baseball and soccer, are in full swing. And for those who don’t play organized sports, the warm weather provides plenty of opportunities for more physical activity, such as running a 5k or playing a round of golf.

    Related Reading: 3 Tips for Running Your First 5K

    As an orthopedic surgeon and team doctor for the Baltimore Orioles, I see a variety of injuries from both athletes and everyday people who exercise. Our Sports Medicine team focuses on getting you back to the activities you love as soon as possible, whether it’s playing golf on the weekends, playing recreational basketball, or returning to college or professional sports.

    Common Sports Injuries

    Exercise unfortunately can result in a number of injuries—notably, to the shoulders, elbows, and knees. Below are three of the most common injuries we see.

    1. Dislocated Shoulder

    A dislocated shoulder involves your upper arm bone popping out of your shoulder socket. Common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder—the most frequently dislocated joint in the body—include:

    • Inability to move the joint
    • Severe pain
    • Swelling or bruising
    • The shoulder looking deformed or out of place
    Dislocated shoulder x-ray

    X-ray image of a dislocated shoulder.

    Make sure to speak to your doctor if you believe you might have a dislocated shoulder. Treatment can range from surgery (usually to tighten torn or stretched tendons or ligaments) or rest to physical therapy. Following surgery, you’ll typically wear a sling for four to six weeks and return to their activities once your doctor clears you to do so—which often is around six months after surgery.

    2. ACL Tear

    An ACL tear affects the anterior cruciate ligament, one of the major ligaments of your knee. In many cases, people hear or feel a “pop” when they experience a torn ACL. Additional symptoms can include:

    • Knee instability
    • Decreased range of motion
    • Severe pain
    • Swelling

    Soccer player with a torn ACL.

    ACL tears can occur for a variety of reasons, commonly when you play sports such as football, basketball, and soccer, as they require you to start and stop, jump, and change directions frequently. Make sure to speak to your doctor if you suspect you may have a torn ACL. Surgery and physical therapy are essential in order to return to physical activity. In many cases, athletes can return to their sport anywhere from eight months to a year after surgery.

    An #ACL tear most commonly occurs during contact sports in which people stop often, jump, and change directions. Learn why women are more susceptible to an #ACLtear, and tips for preventing sports injuries, via @MedStarHealth.

    Click to Tweet

    3. Torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL)

    Because I frequently work with baseball players, I often treat individuals who experience a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is inside the elbow and helps secure your elbow joint. Common symptoms of a torn UCL include:

    • Decreased ability to throw a baseball or other object
    • Elbow instability
    • Pain on the inside of the elbow

    Baseball player pitching in slow motion.

    Tips for Preventing Injuries

    Preventing injury is a big topic in sports. Most athletes want to miss as little time as possible from their sport. To help prevent overuse injuries, it’s important to give your body time to recover. This usually involves adequate time between outings or sessions of whatever activity you’re participating in. You also want to gradually increase your exercise routine, rather than going full-go from the start. This allows your body to adjust to your new exercise routine and the stress it puts on your muscles and joints.

    Participating in an exercise routine that focuses on your core strength, flexibility, and muscle pliability can also help you prevent injuries. When you have a strong core and a flexible body, your body recovers and performs more efficiently.

    Injuries are always a possibility when you exercise or participate in sports. Make sure to see a doctor if you experience symptoms, as prompt treatment can both prevent further injury and get you back to your activities as soon as possible.

    Do you frequently experience pain after sports or physical activity? Consider making an appointment for one of our many MedStar Sports Medicine services.

    Learn More