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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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  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    At the 2019 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium, three abstracts were recognized as outstanding abstracts from among all of our submissions. These research studies were the three highest scored out of the over 450 submissions to the Research Symposium by the Scientific Review committee and exemplifies the caliber of work presented by the MedStar-Georgetown research community.

    “Proteomic Alterations of HDL in Youth with Type 1 Diabetes and their Associations with Glycemic Control: A Case-Control Study” presented a cross-sectional case-control study, comparing the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol proteomes of youth with type 1 diabetes and healthy controls. It sought to evaluate the influence of glycemic control on HDL protein composition.

    Led by Jenny (Evgenia) Gourgari, MD, the research team included Junfeng Ma, PhD; Martin Playford, PhD; Nehal Mehta, MD; Radoslav Goldman, PhD; Alan Remaley, MD, PhD; and Scott Gordon. This research was presented in the basic/translational science category.

    Patients with type 1 diabetes typically have normal or even elevated plasma HDL cholesterol concentrations. However, HDL protein composition can be altered without a change in cholesterol content. Alteration of the HDL proteome can result in dysfunctional HDL particles which reduced the ability of the body to protect against cardiovascular disease.

    Blood samples were obtained from 26 patients with type 1 diabetes and 13 healthy controls. HDL was isolated from plasma by size-exclusion chromatography and further purified using a lipid binding resin. The HDL proteome was analyzed by mass spectrometry using label-free SWATH peptide quantification.

    The samples were analyzed and 78 HDL-bound proteins were measured. The results showed that youth with type 1 diabetes had significantly increased amounts of complement factor H related protein compared to the healthy controls. When patients were analyzed based on glucose control, several trends emerged. Some proteins were altered in type 1 diabetes and not influenced by glycemic control, while others were partially or completely corrected with optimal glucose control. Some proteins including complement component C3  and albumin were significantly different only in type 1 diabetes patients with optimal glucose control, suggesting a possible effect of exogenous insulin.

    The research concluded that youth with type 1 diabetes have proteomic alterations of their HDL compared to healthy controls, despite a similar concentration of HDL cholesterol. The influence of these compositional changes on HDL function are not yet known.

    The authors suggested that future efforts should focus on investigating further the role of these HDL associated proteins in regards to HDL function and their role in cardiovascular disease risk in patients with type 1 diabetes. 

    Congratulations to the research team for their outstanding research! You can read about the other winners here and here.

  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    At the 2019 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium, three abstracts were recognized as outstanding abstracts from among all of our submissions. These research studies were the three highest scored out of the over 450 submissions to the Research Symposium by the Scientific Review committee and exemplifies the caliber of work presented by the MedStar-Georgetown research community.

    The purpose of “Mobilizing a Million Hearts: Process Mapping of Cardiac Risk Assessment and Discussion” is an effort to optimize current cardiac risk calculators that are being used to predict patient 10-year risk. The work sought to identify individuals at high risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) who would benefit the most from cardiac risk management.

    The research team was led by Ronald Romero Barrientos, with funding through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. This research was presented in the health services research category at the MedStar-Georgetown Research Symposium.

    The research team analyzed physician workflow to better understand the current state and needs of physicians when using cardiac risk calculators. The overall goal is to optimize an ASCVD risk tool that implements a comprehensive method of communicating cardiovascular risk that is fully integrated into clinician workflow.

    The study included a total of 17 clinician interviews that were conducted among cardiologists (n=6), primary care physicians (n=7), and care navigators (n=4). Also, 30 hours of clinical observations were conducted. During data analysis, common trends across 34 visits were identified and developed a general process outline for the sequence of events during patient visits. Six out of the total 34 visits were process mapped to confirm this general trend and highlight individual differences. These process maps illustrated that ASCVD risk discussion manifested itself during these patient visits as either a physician-initiated probe into patient lifestyle, physician education of risk factor management, or physician and patient discussion revolving around medication management.

    The research collaborators were Lucy Stein, Laura Schubel, Mark Townsend, Kevin Chaney, and Kristen Miller. These researchers from MedStar Health Research Institute, MedStar National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, and the MedStar Institute for Innovation found that the results of the research revealed implications for both technical design and optimization of the risk calculator. Application of this workflow analysis process will be used in future endeavours to optimize and integrate clinical decision support tools directly into clinician workflow.

    Congratulations to the research team for their outstanding research! You can read about the other winners here and here.

  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Whether you’re training for a triathlon, on your way to work, or just hitting the road to enjoy a bike ride, riding with cars can be dangerous for cyclists. Following these bicycle safety tips will help reduce your chances of getting into trouble:

    1. Don’t stop in a driver’s blind spot. Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right of it. Stopping behind the car makes you visible to traffic on all sides.
    2. Use signals that car drivers recognize. You are less likely to get hit when your movement does not take motorists by surprise. Let them know you are about to turn or move left or right by signaling with your arm. Point your left arm out to move left and your right arm out to move right. You may have learned an old way of signaling a right turn with your left arm, but drivers may not know what that means, so use your right arm to signal a right turn.
    3. Make eye contact with drivers. Try to make eye contact with drivers as you pull into an intersection or make a turn so they know your intentions, and you know they’ve seen you.
    4. Ride in traffic, not with traffic. When cycling in heavy traffic, on a narrow road, or on winding downhill roads, ride in the lane with cars, not to the side where you’re not as visible and may get pushed off to the side. Of course, if a car wants to pass, move out of the way.
    5. Wear bright colors and reflective gear. Wearing black can make it difficult for drivers to see when you are out biking on the road. Mix in brighter colors and reflective gear to make yourself more visible. Bonus points for particularly fun and/or obnoxious color and pattern combinations!
    6. Use bike lights. Bike lights have come a long way. Front and rear lights increase visibility and the sooner a car sees you, the sooner it can stop. I recommend daytime running lights and a blinking rear red light, which is powerful enough to be seen during the day.

    Why Bikers and Runners Should Have a Road ID

    You need to have some form of identification on you when you are riding outside. A Road ID bracelet or similar item is great because you can include critical medical information—written in shorthand that first responders will understand, but won’t cause you embarrassment—along with emergency contact numbers.

    You should also consider purchasing (or making) a small running wallet to carry your ID, insurance card, and some cash when you go out. Proper ID is a must in case something unsafe happens to you, and having a bit of cash means you can catch a taxi back home, grab a bite to eat, or pick up other supplies as needed.

    Tips for Cycling on Trails

    Looking for a change? Try riding on a trail! The Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas have several amazing mixed-use trails. To use them responsibly when biking, keep these tips in mind:

    1. Do not ride more than two people abreast and be prepared to drop to single file when necessary to avoid crowding people off the trail.
    2. Stay to the right unless you are passing someone.
    3. When you are passing someone, announce yourself either will a bell or calling out “on your left” or “passing on your left” well before you emerge alongside the person you are passing.

    Whether you’re riding on the road or the trail, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing a quick bike check before you ride. Be sure your tires are properly inflated, mirrors and reflectors are in place, lights are working properly, and you have a tire kit in case you have to fix a flat! Here’s a video to help you do a basic bike check and clean up your bike after your ride. Happy riding!

    Are you interested in training for an upcoming race or triathlon? Schedule an appointment with Kate Ayoub, PT, and learn how to get fit for race day.

    Learn More

  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The 8th International Conference on Clinical Trials is scheduled to be held July 19-20, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. The Conference brings together Academicians, Researchers, Doctors, Principle Investigators, Clinical research sites, CROs, CMOs, Investors, and senior executives from Biotech, Biopharma, Biomedical, Medical devices and Pharmaceutical industries around the globe to discuss, reflect on and develop their ideas. It offers many opportunities for professional contact and development and is a great networking event.

    This conference includes world-renowned Keynote speakers, Speakers, Poster presentations, Symposiums, Workshops, Wide range of Exhibitions and Career development programs.

    July 19-20, 2019
    Atlanta, GA

    Holiday Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport North
    1380 Virginia Avenue
    Atlanta, GA 30344

    Learn More Here

  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    At the 2019 MedStar Health-Georgetown University Research Symposium, three abstracts were recognized as outstanding abstracts from among all of our submissions. These research studies were the three highest scored out of the over 450 submissions to the Research Symposium by the Scientific Review committee and exemplifies the caliber of work presented by the MedStar-Georgetown research community.

    "Multi-Modal Sepsis Performance Improvement Initiative Improves Early and Appropriate Treatment, Reduces Sepsis-Related Readmissions, and Reduces Overall Mortality" analyzed patient outcomes before and after implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) SEP-1 Core Measure. The SEP-1 Core Measure mandates that hospitals implement quality improvement initiatives to improve sepsis outcomes. The team looked at data before and after the implementation of the multi-modal sepsis performance initiative launched in 2016 at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC).

    Led by Seife Yohannes, MD, the research team included Sean Huang, PhD, Andrea Ryan, and Muhtadi Alnababteh.

    The multi-modal sepsis performance initiative at MWHC had multiple components as part of the process, including:

    • a hospital-wide educational campaign about sepsis
    • 24-7 electronic warning system (EWS) of patients at risk for sepsis
    • a rapid response nursing team that monitors the EWS and implements bundled treatments
    • 24-7 mid-level provider team that evaluates patients identified by the EWS
    • quality improvement initiatives in sepsis documentation and coding.

    The study used coding data for over 4,00 patients with a diagnosis of sepsis as reported to CMS. The study compared patient outcomes six months before the launch of the initiative and 13 months after full implementation.

    The study found that based on an average of 2000 sepsis cases at our hospital, this amounted to 90 lives saved per year. Post-intervention, hospital length of stay was reduced by 1.8 days and re-admission rate was reduced by 1.6%.

    Regression analysis showed age, admission through the emergency department, and severity of illness as independent risk factors for increased mortality. Adjusted for these risk factors, the incidence of severe sepsis and septicemia was reduced by 5.3% and 6.9% in the post-intervention period, while the incidence of simple sepsis increased by 12%.

    The study concluded that the “multi-modal sepsis performance improvement initiative improved quality of care and patient outcomes.”

    Congratulations to the research team for their outstanding research! You can read about the other winners here and here.

  • May 31, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The First International Conference in Systems Medicine will be held September 11-13, 2019 at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., The conference will offer workshops, plenary sessions, panel discussions, oral, and poster presentations, as well as several interactive sessions – highlighting science, academia, business, and public policy. Presentations will showcase the science of systems medicine and how this exciting new field is beginning to change healthcare. The conference aims to create an active engagement between participants, encourage future interdisciplinary research opportunities, create collaboration amongst the international systems thinking stakeholders, and foster networking.

    Early bird registration ends on May 31st, 2019. Regular registration is available until September 11, 2019.

    September 11-13, 2019
    Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.,
    Register Here
    Abstracts submitted by June 15, 2019 may be eligible for registration fee waivers.

    Pre-Conference Workshop
    There will be a pre-conference workshop on September 11, 2019. Students and Postdocs can register for free.
    Check out the Agenda for more information. Space is limited so please hurry!

    Travel Stipends
    Travels stipends are also available for selected presenters who are traveling within the United States!
    Please email to learn more. Information will be provided on the website soon.

    Hotel Discounts Available
    Click here for discounted rates at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center. Please book ASAP as the number of rooms at discounted rates is limited.