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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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  • August 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Mark your calendars now to connect with other MHRI and MedStar associates by participating in one of these upcoming events to support the health of our communities.

    Race to Beat Cancer

    Saturday, September 14

    Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., is proud to host the 39th annual Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.,, Race to Beat Cancer 5K. This charitable event is one of the premier 5K races in Washington, D.C., All of the proceeds from this event are donated to the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and cancer research.

    Money raised from last year’s race helped fund these research projects:

    • An algorithm for physicians to better follow cancer survivors, with the goal of both predicting and preventing cardiac complications after cancer treatment
    • Evaluating markers in the blood that could predict the development of secondary cancers, coronary artery disease, and dementia in cancer survivors
    • Improving supportive care in preventing hair loss in black women undergoing chemotherapy
    • Supporting other ongoing clinical trials in early-stage breast cancer, advanced colorectal cancer, advanced prostate cancer, and early stage bladder cancer 

    Race packet pick-up will ONLY be Friday, September 13, 2019 from 1PM - 7PM at Pacers Running 14th St and from 1PM - 7PM at the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C., located at 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

    Where: Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.,
    Check-In: 7:00 am
    Starts: 8:00 am
    Length of Walk/Run: 5K

    To learn more and register, visit

    2019 Step Out: Washington, D.C.,

    Saturday, September 21

    Participating in the Step Out Walk is an experience you will never forget. You will be joining your community members along the beautiful route who share your passion to fight diabetes. You will be helping people in your own community who live with this disease every day. Bring your friends, family, and co-workers to walk with thousands of people from across the country and help us change the future of diabetes. This walk is hosted by the American Diabetes Association

    The MedStar Diabetes Institute has formed a walk team which can be joined here.

    Where: Washington Monument Grounds, Washington, D.C.,
    Check-In: 8:00 am
    Event starts: 9:30 am
    Learn more about the walk here.


    Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel

    Sunday, September 22

    Help support the Adaptive Sports Programs at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network and participate in the Super H 5K Run, Walk & Wheel in Tysons Corner, VA. This race is open to all able-bodied and disabled athletes who can run, walk or roll through the course. All proceeds benefit Adaptive Sports Programs at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, which helps children and adults with physical disabilities to pursue healthy, active lifestyles through recreational and competitive sports.

    Where: Tysons Sport & Health
    Check-In: 7:00 am
    Event starts: 9:00 am
    Length of Walk: 5K
    Learn more and register at


    2019 Step Out: Baltimore, MD

    Sunday, October 6

    The Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes gives everyone in our community a chance to gather together to raise funds for diabetes research, advocacy, and education. Dollars raised through Step Out help to support those affected by diabetes in Maryland, and beyond. When you register for the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes, you become a part of the American Diabetes Association’s team. Joining you will be thousands of participants from around the country who come together and directly impact the lives of people facing the daily challenges of diabetes. This walk is hosted by the American Diabetes Association

    Where: Canton Waterfront, Baltimore, MD
    Event starts: TBD
    Length of Walk 3.15 mile walk
    Learn more here.


    2019 Greater Washington Heart Walk

    Saturday, November 2

    Hosted by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, this event includes 1- and 3-mile routes. Join walkers from across our community as they step out to have fun, get inspired and support a meaningful cause.

    Where: The National Mall, Washington, D.C.,
    Check-In: 8:30 am
    Event starts: 10:00 am
    Length of Walk: 1-mile or 3-mile walk

    Learn more on the website.

  • August 02, 2019

    By Allen J. Taylor, MD

    “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

    "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

    "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

    Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.
    ― A.A. Milne

    From Dr. Taylor: Winnie the Pooh may have been onto something, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Breakfast is an exciting event if you consider that it could improve your chances of leading a longer life.

    After conducting an observational study of 6,550 adults ages 40 to 75, researchers from the University of Iowa concluded that skipping breakfast increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, while eating breakfast promotes heart health.

    Cardiovascular disease has long been the leading cause of death in the United States and across the world. We know that common risk factors—cholesterol levels, diabetes, weight—are influenced by what we eat. But researchers recognized that we didn’t know as much about the heart-health effects of how we eat, such as whether we eat breakfast. They decided to look into it.

    The Researcher’s Approach: Who Was in the Study?

    To begin their research, they pulled data from the highly regarded and ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which has nearly 40,000 participants. The researchers included participants from Phase III of the study who were between the ages of 40 and 75, had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer, and whose underlying cause of death was part of the study data.

    This type of study is called “observational,” meaning that the researchers observed and analyzed data from a sample population to determine if there were conclusions that could be applied to the general population. While it was not a randomized controlled study, considered the gold standard in research, the observations are worth considering.

    Among their cohort (with a mean age of 53 years), 59 percent ate breakfast every day, 25 percent ate breakfast some days, and 16 percent never or rarely ate breakfast. After adjusting the data for a range of factors including age, gender, race/ethnicity, and body mass index, those who never ate breakfast had a significantly increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke.

    A Few Questions: The Why and What About Breakfast and Heart Health

    These study results raised some clear questions for many:

    • Is this study definitive?
    • Why does breakfast make a difference for our hearts?
    • Does it matter what we eat at breakfast?

    In answer to the first question, no, this is not a definitive study, but it does show an association between skipping breakfast and cardiovascular-related death. Since most of us want to live the best lifestyle we can, these results give us all something to think about if we tend to skip breakfast. And I must admit, I often do.

    Regarding question two about how breakfast makes a difference for our hearts, researchers suggest that skipping breakfast can lead to harmful cardiovascular effects in several ways.

    • First, if you don’t “break the fast” when you wake up in the morning, you may feel hungrier later on, leading to overeating and insulin resistance. When your body is insulin resistant, you need more insulin to keep your blood sugar at a normal level. Ongoing insulin resistance can lead to Type 2 diabetes—a heart disease risk factor. On the other hand, the researchers said eating breakfast can help you regulate your appetite and improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin.
    • Second, skipping breakfast can lead to elevated blood pressure in the morning—another heart disease risk factor—while eating breakfast can actually help lower blood pressure.
    • Third, skipping breakfast may increase cholesterol levels, clearly linked to heart disease.
    • Fourth, skipping breakfast may be a red flag for overall unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.

    Finally, regarding the last question, researchers did not have access to information about what the study participants ate for breakfast. However, together with my colleague, Andrea Goergen, a dietitian with our Bariatric Program, we offer some healthy suggestions below.

    Heart-Smart Breakfasts: Ideas and Tips

    From Andrea Goergen: I must admit that I actually enjoy eating breakfast, but I totally understand that everyone is different. Some of my patients aren’t hungry in the morning, others are just too busy to sit down for a meal, while others skip breakfast because they mistakenly think it will help them lose weight. I do appreciate all of these situations, and I have some suggestions if any of these reasons sound familiar to you.

    First, what is breakfast? In 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics proposed the following guidelines:

    • Breakfast should provide between 15 and 25 percent of your total recommended daily calories.
    • You should eat it within two to three hours of waking.
    • The meal should Include at least three of the following food groups: lean protein, fruits and/or vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or non-fat dairy. A balanced combination of these food groups can jump-start your metabolism and provide enough fiber and energy to fill you up and keep you satisfied until lunch.

    Quick-Fix Ideas for a Heart-Healthy Breakfast

    • Low-fat Greek yogurt with raspberries and almonds.
    • Oatmeal made with 1 percent milk, blueberries and walnuts. (You can use an instant oatmeal packet but avoid those with added sugar.)
    • Whole-grain cereal with 1 percent milk and strawberries.
    • Whole grain waffle or English muffin with peanut butter and a banana. (This is easy to eat on the go as well.)

    Another option if your mornings are busy is to prepare some foods in advance. A healthy frittata with potatoes, green onions, asparagus (or other vegetable), and low-fat cheese is an excellent breakfast choice. It can be made on the weekend and you can heat individual portions in the microwave or toaster oven throughout the week. Yogurt bowls and smoothies can also be made in advance. Or try overnight oats or slow-cooker oatmeal to have a hot, nutritious breakfast ready for you early in the morning.

    Also don’t forget that you don’t have to eat “breakfast” foods for breakfast. Try your leftovers from dinner, such as chicken with green beans and quinoa, salmon with roasted potatoes and broccoli, or red beans and brown rice with spinach.

    Healthy Choices when You Have More Time

    • A two-egg omelet with low-fat cheese, spinach, onions, tomatoes, and a slice of whole wheat toast.
    • Two eggs with black beans, low-fat cheese, onions, and peppers over brown rice or on a whole wheat tortilla.
    • A breakfast burrito with eggs, salmon, low-fat cheese, and a squeeze of lemon together with a fruit bowl. (These can also be made ahead, frozen, then thawed overnight and warmed in the morning.)

    Not Hungry? Try Drinking Your Breakfast

    Some of my patients who are not hungry when they wake up find that drinking their breakfast is easier. If you experience this lack of hunger, too, try preparing a smoothie with low-fat Greek yogurt, berries, and spinach, or try one with strawberries and peanut butter or peanut butter powder.

    From Dr. Taylor and Andrea: If you already eat breakfast every day and want to ensure you’re making the best choices for your heart, we hope you find these ideas helpful. If you don’t eat breakfast regularly, we hope you take some wisdom from Pooh and begin to view this meal as an exciting opportunity to make your heart happier and healthier.

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    Subscribe to our blog today

  • August 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The mission of the Association for Academic Surgery is to inspire and develop young academic surgeonsRegister now for the 2019 Association for Academic Surgery fall courses. These courses will take place immediately prior to the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.

    Registration fees for the Fall Courses include: course syllabus, continental breakfast, AM and PM breaks, and a networking reception. Early registration deadline is September 23rd.

    To learn more about who should attend, the agenda, and to register, visit the Association for Academic Surgery. 

    October 26, 2019
    The Westin St. Francis
    San Francisco, CA

  • August 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Join more than 3,000 interventional and endovascular specialists at Cardiovascular Research Technologies Conference (CRT) 2020 for a comprehensive four-day interventional cardiology conference featuring cutting-edge data in a unique boutique setting.

    CRT, one of the world’s leading interventional cardiology conferences, is attended by more than 3,000 interventional and endovascular specialists. At the 2019 meeting, CRT featured 1,290 presentations and 20 live cases from nine locations around the world. The conference, held each year in Washington, D.C., is supported by MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute and serves as a forum for physician and health-care professional education about new cardiovascular technology and interventional procedures in the field. The meeting is several conferences at once, with tracks including CRT Valve & Structural, CRT Endovascular, Technology & Innovation, Atherosclerosis & Research, and Nurses & Technologists.

    The CRT 2020 Abstract Committee invites you to submit abstracts of original investigations for consideration at CRT 2020. Abstracts must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. ET, on November 15, 2019. Learn More to Submit

    This conference is a great opportunity to learn about the latest developments in your field, connect with colleagues, and earn CME credits. Early bird registration ends October 31st.To learn more about the meeting, including the agendas, and to register, visit

    February 22-25, 2020
    Gaylord National Convention Center
    National Harbor, MD

  • August 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Registration is now open for MedStar Health’s Fall 2019 Continuing Education conferences. Organized by the Department of Continuing Professional Education, these year-round learning events provide an opportunity for clinical associates to gain knowledge of new treatments and techniques, connect with renowned leaders in their fields, and earn CE credits. Discounted registration for MedStar associates is available.

    For more information about these and other events, and to stay up to date, please visit

    2019 Update on the Diagnosis and Management of Pituitary Tumors
    September 11, 2019
    The Center Club, Baltimore, MD
    Course Directors: Edward F. Aulisi, MD; Susmeeta T. Sharma, MD
    Dinner is complimentary

    2nd Annual MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute Symposium 2019
    September 14, 2019 
    Washington Marriott Georgetown, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: Thomas M. Fishbein, MD; Matthew Cooper, MD; Basit Javaid, MD, MS; Stuart S. Kaufman, MD; Rohit S. Satoskar,  MD
    MedStar associates save 25% on registration with code: MGTIMS

    Gastric and Soft Tissue Neoplasms 2019
    September 21, 2019
    Park Hyatt Washington, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS; Nadim G. Haddad, MD; Dennis A. Priebat, MD, FACP
    MedStar associates receive complimentary registration with code: GSTNM

    Adult Congenital Heart Disease 2019 (ACHD)
    October 4, 2019 - October 5, 2019
    Bethesda Marriott, Bethesda, MD
    Course Directors: Anitha S. John, MD, PhD; Melissa H. Fries, MD
    MedStar associates save 50% on registration with code: ACHDMS

    Gastroenterology for the Primary Care Provider 2019 (GIPCP)
    October 12, 2019
    Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: James H. Lewis, MD; Caren S. Palese, MD
    MedStar associates save 25% on registration with code: GIPCPMS

    Autoimmune Encephalitis Post–Streptococcal Evaluation & Treatment –  A Way Forward
    October 5, 2019
    The Mayflower, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: Heidi J. Appel, MD; Earl H. Harley, MD; M. Elizabeth Latimer, MD

    MedStar Heart Failure Summit 2019
    October 12, 2019
    Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Bethesda, MD
    Course Directors: Mark Hofmeyer, MD, MS; Samer Najjar, MD

    Scary Cases in Endocrine Surgery Dinner
    November 7, 2019
    Wildfire Restaurant, Tysons Corner, VA
    Course Director: Jennifer Rosen, MD

    DC Lung Cancer Conference 2019
    November 16, 2019
    Wardman Park Marriott, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: Stephen V. Liu, MD; Chul Kim, MD, MPH

    Contact for discount codes for MedStar associates.

  • August 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The Ryan White Team was awarded the SPIRIT of Excellence Award for the first quarter of 2019 during a presentation at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. The Ryan White Team includes David Gaviria, Chizoba Anako, Allison Daly, Antonio Pineda, Edith Sowe, and Corten Yarbrough. Nominated by Ron Migues, MD, Executive Director, MedStar Medical and Surgical Research Network, the award was presented by Dr. Weissman, Chief Scientific Officer of MedStar Health, President of MedStar Health Research Institute.

    The Ryan White Team was recognized for their outstanding medical care, case management, social work and peer navigator services to individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. This team may encounter several issues and roadblocks daily, but their Patient First mindset ensures that patients are cared for in the way they are accustomed.

    This is the first time that the SPIRIT Award was presented to a team of MHRI associates. “When I went to fill out the nomination,” said Migues, “I couldn’t imagine picking one associate from the team. They work so cohesively and effectively together.”

    At the presentation, other colleagues spoke up on the SPIRIT that the team embodies:

    • “Their efforts don’t go unnoticed, patients remember them at the end of the day.”
    • “Each has their own strengths and add to the team to be able to work together”
    • “These patients rely on their physicians to take care of them medically, but they could not make it happen without the support and dedication of this team”

    There are many great things that can be said about the Ryan White Team. We’re lucky to have such a wonderful group of associates that work well together and continuously advance health through research.

    The SPIRIT Award is given to recognize and reward one associate (management or non-management) each quarter, who excels in Service, Patient First, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork. Nominations for the third quarter of 2019 are due by August 15. Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact