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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 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Join us at MedStar Health Research Institute in recognizing the work of our nurses during National Nurses Week, from May 6 to 12, 2019. We want to celebrate and thank nurses throughout our system for their commitment to patient and associate care and wellness.

    The American Nurses Association has designated this year’s theme as “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate”. National Nurses Week is a time for individuals, employers, other health care professionals, community leaders and nurses to recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s 4 million registered nurses. Nurses are everywhere we live, work, play, learn, and worship, and in every health care setting providing care to millions of people. In fact, about 1 in every 100 Americans is a registered nurse.

    At the Research Institute, we want to recognize our nurses’ contributions as valued and respected members of the research team. They truly focus on the participants in our research as the whole person, inspiring participation, innovating new approaches, and influencing our patients to take better care of their health. They directly contribute to our research experience and ensures quality outcomes.

    May 12 is celebrated as “International Nurse Day”, as designated by the International Council of Nurses in 1974 to honor the birthday of Florence Nightingale, commonly considered the founder of modern nursing and nursing research.

    During National Nurses Week, we would like to extend a special thanks to all our clinical research nurses, and all nurses in the MedStar Health system, as they continue to provide the highest level of quality care to our patients. They are critical in helping provide the best care to our community and are dedicated to advancing health.

  • May 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    This course is a brief overview of the regulations and ethics involved in conducting human subjects research. It is designed for investigators, study coordinators, and others who are responsible for facilitating and implementing specific components of research studies.

    Course Objectives

    • To describe the primary roles and responsibility of the research team in a research study
    • To obtain relevant content and tools needed to facilitate the implementation and conduct of a clinical research study

    Registration required! Breakfast and a light lunch will be provided. Register for free today at

    Course Director:  Mary Anne Hinkson, MBA, BS
    Course Coordinators:  Sarah Vittone, DBe, MSN, RN; Jane Otado, PhD

    Wednesday, May 8
    8:00am to 4:30pm

    MedStar Health Research Institute
    University Town Center
    6525 Belcrest Road #700
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

  • May 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in April 2019. 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. Assessing the Impact of Serious Illness on Patient Intimacy and Sexuality in Palliative Care
      Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2019. DOI: 1016/j.jpainsymman.2019.04.015
      Kelemen A, Cagle J, Chung J, Groninger H.
    2. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy System in Extremely Obese Women after Cesarean Delivery Compared with Standard Dressing
      The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 2019. DOI: 1080/14767058.2019.1611774
      Kawakita T, Iqbal SN, Overcash RT.
    3. Unusual Effects of Common Antibiotics
      Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2019. DOI: 10.3949/ccjm.86a.17050
      Ruiz ME, Wortmann GW.
    4. Third Trimester Ultrasound for Fetal Macrosomia: Optimal Timing and Institutional Specific Accuracy
      The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 2019. DOI: 1080/14767058.2017.1405385
      Parikh LI, Iqbal SN, Jelin AC, Overcash RT, Tefera E, Fries MH.
    5. Revascularization and Replantation in the Hand: Ectopic Banking and Replantation
      Hand Clinics, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.hcl.2019.01.002
      Cho BH, Higgins JP.
  • May 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The health policy fellowship leadership from Georgetown University/MedStar Health, George Washington University, and the University of Maryland invite you to the next Baltimore Washington Transforming Health Policy ForumThe upcoming forum discussion will be on Gender Equality in Medicine: Parental Leave and the Gender Pay Gap on May 8th at 1:30pm, which is being hosted by the University of Maryland at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

    The mission of this forum is to gather diverse circles in health care, including local clinicians, researchers, and policymakers, for a discussion on leading policy issues.  Please join us for a conversation about this important topic gaining increasing attention with our panel of guest experts. 

    Guest Panelists:
    Dr. Aisha Liferidge, MD, MPH, Health Policy Fellowship Co-Director,
    Emergency Medicine, George Washington University

    Dr. Kinjal Sethuraman, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor,
    Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland

    Dr. Reggie Brown, MD, Assistant Professor and Director,
    BonsSecours Hospital, University of Maryland 

    Registration required! Light lunch will be provided.
    Register for free today!

    Wednesday, May 8
    1:30pm to 2:30pm

    Grand Hyatt Washington
    Tiber Creek AB Room
    1000 H St NW
    Washington, D.C., 20001

  • May 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    This presentation explores how to consistently and comprehensively capture the patient’s voice by using multiple data sources, including unstructured FDA archival data and social media.

    FDA’s regulatory mission relies on sourcing new data and methodologies to increase our comprehensive understanding of the patient’s voice.  Leveraging technological advances and multiple real-world evidence data sources, including FDA’s archival data and social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, has enabled FDA to acquire new insight into understanding the perspectives of caregivers and patients beyond the clinic.  It has also given us a more comprehensive picture of medical products functioning beyond controlled randomized clinical trials.

    Collectively, the findings of this study suggest opportunities to use new data sources to increase the total understanding of the patient perspective, including increasing confidence in the data that FDA traditionally collects, as well as reaching voices of vulnerable populations.

    Presented by
    Christine Lee, PharmD, PhD
    General Health Scientist, Office of the Center Director
    FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

    Thursday, May 9, 2019
    12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
    Learn more and register here.

    The FDA Grand Rounds is webcast every other month to highlight cutting-edge research underway across the Agency and its impact on protecting and advancing public health. Each session features an FDA scientist presenting on a key public health challenge and how FDA is applying science to its regulatory activities. The 45-minute presentation is followed by questions from the audience.

  • May 02, 2019

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    All MedStar associates are required to complete annual mandatory training SITEL by June 30th. Please ensure that you have completed this training by the deadline of June 30, 2019.

    Our compliance with this requirement as an entity will be reported to senior leadership. The expectation is that MHRI will have 100% of the associates complete these requirements in a timely manner. This includes all as-needed associates and volunteers.

    If you do not complete them by June 30, 2019, the modules will close and you will not have the opportunity to complete them after that date. These compliance training modules are in addition to the other required training modules found on SiTELMS. All modules must be completed by the end of the fiscal year.

    To access your mandatory courses:

    1. Log into SiTEL at
    2. Navigate to the left panel
    3. Click on “My Curriculum” under the Learning Center
    4. Launch and complete each course listed

    To ensure you are fully compliant, please complete the training prior to June 30. If you experience any difficulty, contact the SiTEL Help Desk at 1-877-748-3567.