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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:
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    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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  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The month of June brought together MedStar Health Research Institute associates at three locations for our biannual town halls. Hosted at University Town Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the town halls help to engage and connect associates. Thank you to all the Research Institute associates who were able to join us at one of the Spring Town Halls in the last month.

    Thank you to Amy Loveland, Osirelis Sanchez, and Becky Montalvo for presenting our safety moment involving an ongoing research study led by Nawar Shara. It was a great example of how technology is being used in research and what steps our study teams are taking to protect patients who participate.

    The main portion of the Spring 2019 Town Halls was presented by Neil J. Weissman, focusing on the results of the 2019 Associate Engagement Survey. MHRI surpassed our participation goal of 80%, with close to 90% of MHRI associates participating in the survey. The survey looked at 9 key areas: Patient First, Career Development and Training, Communications, Leadership and Direction, Performance Management, Total Rewards, Engagement, Supervision and Teamwork. Overall, we improved in six areas, stayed the same in two and declined in one area.

    At the manager’s meeting in May, the results of the survey were reviewed in detail along with every written comment provided by associates. Managers discussed opportunities for change and feedback will be incorporated into the MHRI operational goals and plans for the next fiscal year.

    During town halls, the interactive Sli.Do tool was used to ask associates specific questions and receive answers in real time. Associates were asked what can be improved in our Communication efforts and what are some areas of opportunity for Career Development and Training. You can view the submissions to Sli.Do from the Spring Town Halls here.

    Mary Anne Hinkson provided leadership updates. We would like to welcome Grant Gonzalez (Director of Finance), Shawana Jackson (SCA Director for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine), and James Boscoe (Director of ORI) to MedStar Health Research Institute and joining us in Advancing Health Through Research.

    Eva Hochberger introduced new professional development tools developed by the Associate Engagement Committee. You can access these resources for Professional Development on StarPort. It's also linked on the MHRI StarPort landing page under the Associates Engagement links.

    Also, the IS Self-Service Portal is available through StarPort as an alternative way of accessing our IS Helpdesk. Select SOM from the drop-down menu when you log in to access it. As a reminder, please be safe and secure when you are checking your email. For more information on phishing emails, check out these IS resources.

    Research would not be possible without our associates and without the patients who participate. Thank you to those who allow us to make the lives of our patients better today and in the future.

  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health policies require that all individuals engaged in the conduct of research complete the annual conflict of interest disclosure. The annual research conflicts of interest disclosure process is designed to manage financial and nonfinancial research interests. As you probably know, MedStar Health Research Institute is required to manage conflicts of interests as a condition of receiving federal funding for research.

    If you held a research role at MedStar in fiscal year 2019 (FY19), you may have already entered data into the COISmart system during the fiscal year. If you have completed the questionnaire as a researcher during FY19, a link to the conflict of interest disclosure will be sent to you in July. You will be required to ensure that the disclosure on file for FY19 accurately reflects any external relationships you have for the entire fiscal year. When you receive that email in July, please follow the link in that email to certify your previous disclosure if it already reflects all external relationships you have had during FY19. Use the “revision” links in the questionnaire to update your answers if necessary and resubmit the questionnaire to ensure that it accurately reflects a full fiscal year of reporting (July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019). The instructions for certifying your disclosure or revising the disclosure as needed are available here. As a researcher, the FY 2020 questionnaire is also available for you to complete between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020.

    If you have any questions about the conflict of interest policy or accessing the COISmart system to make disclosures, contact the Research Compliance Program at

  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Patient safety remains a top priority for all healthcare systems. One method that systems use to provide an organized approach for responding to unintended patient harm is a Communication and Resolution Program. MedStar has a been a leader in this field by making it an active area of research.  

    “Lessons Learned from Implementing a Principled Approach to Resolution Following Patient Harm” describes lessons learned after implementing the resolution component of Communication and Optimal Resolution, a comprehensive contemporary communication and resolution program at MedStar Health.  Some healthcare systems have struggled with implementing Communication and Resolution Programs, mainly around the components to resolving events that have caused serious patient harm. The recent research publication sought to share the findings from an implementation science study that helps support other systems.

    MedStar Health initiated a five-year strategic plan to improve patient safety at our 10 acute care hospitals and 250 ambulatory care sites in 2012. In 2013, MedStar collaborated with leaders from around the US to develop and pilot test a Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) toolkit. MedStar piloted the toolkit in eight hospitals in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In 2015, MedStar extended its CANDOR implementation to all 10 MedStar hospitals and has since expanded its implementation to all ambulatory care sites and diversified business units.

    At MedStar, CANDOR is initiated when a serious patient harm event is reported. This is followed by starting an immediate investigation at the local care site, a discussion with the patient safety and local care team, early communication to the patient and family, and activation of the health system’s critical incident response process including care for the care teams and notification of leadership and claims and risk management.

    The authors formed seven strategies to support the resolution process at MedStar Health. These included processes to:

    1. provide immediate support to patients and families,
    2. hold and waive bills,
    3. activate event review processes early to inform resolution,
    4. embrace a paradigm shift in legally defensible cases,
    5. develop a communication and resolution program legal community,
    6. accept sacrifices with a principled resolution, and
    7. commit to address challenges with open medical staffs.

    While the CANDOR program is still quite new, the research team has found that the resolution process is complex, and improvements can be made in support of organizational transparency. MedStar is committed to patient safety and recognizes the importance of partnering with patients and/or families to prevent serious patient harm from happening to others.

    The authors for this publication are: Kelly M. Smith, PhD (MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety); Larry L. Smith (Risk Management for MedStar Health; Greenspring Financial Insurance Limited, Inc. of Cayman); John C. (Jack) Gentry (MedStar Health System Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality and Safety); and David B. Mayer (MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety).

    This research received funding from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Learning Health Systems Award. The demonstration project for CANDOR was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality under an ACTION II contract to the Health Research and Educational Trust.

    Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management, 2019. DOI: 10.1177/2516043518813814

  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Join us in congratulating Neil J. Weissman, MD, FASE, Chief Scientific Officer, MedStar Health and President, MedStar Health Research Institute, on his 2019 Mentorship Award from the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE).

    This award recognizes a senior physician or sonographer who has demonstrated exceptional mentorship within ASE. Unlike other awards, the Mentorship Award specifically acknowledges individuals who helped younger members advance within the Society and thus cultivated ASE’s future leaders.

    Dr. Weissman uses his unique leadership skills to develop mentoring programs that benefit both individuals and organizations. He conceived of, and implemented, the ASE Leadership Academy as a way of growing the future leadership of the Society and assuring that they develop the necessary skills to be effective leaders.

  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    In 2017, MedStar Health joined a group of eight institutions, brought together by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), to plan and evaluate strategies to produce coordinated systems for community health.  Over three years, members participated in a series of workshops titled Building a Systems Approach to Community Health and Health Equity for Academic Medical Centers. This topic is closely tied to MedStar Health Research Institute’s mission to advance the health of our community through research.

    With collaborators from Georgetown University, the team investigated medical-legal partnerships as a method to address issues of health equity and community health. A medical-legal partnership is an inter-professional healthcare delivery model that adds legal services to health care to help doctors address “health-harming legal needs”, which encompass social determinants of health that contribute to poor health and health disparities. The research included qualitative and quantitative data centered around patients at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center (MFSMC) and its Family Health Center (FHC) in Baltimore, Maryland. Some risk factors for health-harming legal needs include low socioeconomic status, caring for young children, homeless, and elderly. Legal issues that arise from these social determinants of health include custody, domestic violence, health insurance, and eviction.

    At the end of June, the entire team received an award for their participation at a dinner and the work was presented at the final meeting for participating sites by Deliya Wesley, PhD, MPH (Health Equity investigator),  Angela D. Thomas, DrPH, MPH, MBA (Assistant Vice President, Healthcare Delivery Research, MHRI) and Vicki W. Girard, JD (Founding Co-Director, Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance and a Professor of Law, Legal Practice).

    The team presented their research at the 2019 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium. The poster, “An Empirical Approach to Planning for Medical-Legal Partnerships (MLPs): Initial Findings from the MedStar Franklin Square Service Area,” can be viewed here.

    While the work the team is conducting under the oversight of AAMC is completed, they will be continuing their work into identifying costs that would be associated with implementing a medical-legal partnership, including potential savings for the system.

  • July 07, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The NIH Regional Seminar serves the NIH mission of providing education and training for the next generation of biomedical and behavioral scientists. This seminar is intended to:

    • Demystify the application and review process
    • Clarify federal regulations and policies
    • Highlight current areas of special interest or concern

    Who Should Attend? The seminar and optional workshops are appropriate for those who are new to working with the NIH grants process – administrators, early stage investigators, researchers, graduate students, etc. For those with more experience, the seminar offers a few more advanced sessions, updates on policies and processes direct from NIH staff, as well as valuable presentation resources to share with your institution.

    Who are the Presenters? The NIH Regional Seminar involves approximately 65 NIH and HHS staff who are brought to a central location in order to educate, share, and hear your questions over the course of two days, plus the pre-seminar workshops. (Faculty page with pictures and bios will be posted this spring, so keep watching this website!)

    This seminar is your opportunity to make direct contact with NIH policy officials, grants management, program and review staff, and representatives from the HHS Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and others. In addition, take advantage of discussions involving more than 600 fellow attendees from around the world.

    In addition to learning more about the NIH grants processes and policies through the optional workshops and 2-day sessions, there are opportunities throughout the seminar to Meet the Experts 1:1. These 15 minutes chats are a great way to get more specific questions answered by NIH & HHS experts. You’ll have the opportunity to sign up in advance or on-site to speak with the expert(s) of your choice participating in the seminar.

    What are some of the topics? Here’s a quick overview of some of the topics:

    • Budget Basics for Administrators and Investigators
    • Career Development Awards
    • Clinical Trials
    • Compliance (Case Studies)
    • Current Issues at NIH
    • Diversity in the Extramural Research Workplace
    • electronic Research Administration (eRA)
    • Financial Conflict of Interest
    • Fundamentals of the NIH Grants Process
    • Grant Writing for Success
    • Human Research Protections
    • Intellectual Property, Inventions, and Patents
    • Loan Repayment Program
    • Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)
    • Peer Review Process
    • Preventing & Detecting Fraud
    • Public Access
    • SciENcv
    • R&D Contracts
    • Research Integrity
    • Rigor & Reproducibility
    • Training/Fellowships
    • SBIR/STTR Program
    • ….and that’s not all!

    Can I go ahead and make my hotel reservations now? Yes! See the Hotel/Travel page for all the details. The room block is for a limited time and rooms traditionally sell out before the date for this seminar.

    For inquiries regarding the seminar, email

    Listserv information is available on the NIH Regional Seminar Webpage