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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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  • April 05, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) is offering a one-day orientation session on Tuesday, June 11th focused on conducting research at Medstar. This orientation session is for both early-career investigators as well as experienced investigators who recently moved to MedStar who wish to learn more about the services and resources available for every stage of the research lifecycle.

    The MHRI Investigator Orientation is an interactive session that covers the following topics:

    • an overview of the core business and research support services available to you;
    • tips and tools for finding funding and research collaborators;
    • research informatics and statistical support;
    • the IRB process;
    • an overview of study contracting mechanisms and financial management procedures;
    • answers to the most frequently asked compliance questions;
    • best practices for effective proposal preparation and submission

    Tuesday, June 11
    8:00am – 4:00pm
    MHRI Administrative Offices at University Town Center
    6525 Belcrest Road, Suite 700
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    Please email to RSVP.
    Note: breakfast and lunch will be provided.

  • April 05, 2019

    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.

    Hidradentitis Suppurativa: One Disease or Many?
    Ginette Okoye, MD
    Professor and Chair of Dermatology, Howard University

    April 5, 2019
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Theater
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    Live-Stream Link:

    Research Grand Rounds are open to all members of the research team, from principal investigators to clinical and research coordinators and trainees. Topics covered in the Research Grand Rounds range from community-focused research to best practices and are intended to increase collaboration within the research community in and outside of MedStar Health.

    For more information, please contact or visit

  • April 05, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    GHUCCTS is pleased to co-host the upcoming DC CTSA Consortium conference, "Spring Regulatory Update and Hot Topics in Clinical Research." The conference will be held on Monday, April 29, 2019 at The George Washington University Cloyd Heck Marvin Center, located at 800 21st NW in the 3rd Floor Ballroom.

     The full agenda will be posted here when it is finalized. The event is offered free of charge. Deadline for registration is April 24, 2019.  If you have already registered, your space is secured.  Please check the website periodically for the full agenda as it is finalized.

    RSVP by emailing by noon on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.

  • April 05, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Having a healthy heart is pivotal, as heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. This is especially important once you get into your 30s, as heart disease risk increases with age.

    As a primary care doctor, I help patients prevent heart disease by monitoring their risk factors, such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and weight. That’s why it’s important to have a primary care doctor you see annually, and often, if something is bothering you. I also provide my patients with key lifestyle tips to help them maintain healthy hearts—I’ll share four of my most effective tips here.

    #HeartDisease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Discover four ways Dr. Fernando Porter says you can improve your #HeartHealth today. Learn more via @MedStarHealth’s #LiveWellHealthy blog.
    Click to Tweet

    Key Ways to Improve Heart Health

    1. Don’t Smoke

    People who smoke are two to four times more likely to develop both heart disease and stroke than nonsmokers. This is because smoking can cause high blood pressure, reduce blood flow from the heart and to the brain, and harm blood vessels. Even smoking fewer than five cigarettes a day can result in early signs of heart disease. If you have trouble quitting, speak to your primary care doctor about smoking cessation programs in your area, which provide resources, such as support groups and therapy to help you become smoke-free.

    1. Follow a Healthy Diet

    You can boost your heart health by eating a diet that is low in sodium. This is because consuming too much salt causes you to retain excess water, which can raise blood pressure and put more strain on the heart and arteries. Try to keep track of how much salt you’re consuming, and don’t consume more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day. The Mediterranean diet is one diet that can help you avoid excess sodium—it avoids processed foods and focuses on lower sodium foods, such as:

    • Fish
    • Fruits
    • Nuts
    • Poultry
    • Vegetables
    • Whole grains
    1. Exercise Regularly

    Exercising is a great way to maintain a healthy heart, as it reduces risk factors, such as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels, and obesity. I always recommend that patients exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And if you don’t enjoy going for a jog or being at the gym, one study found that everyday activities like gardening reduce heart attack and stroke risk by 30 percent for people over the age of 60.

    1. Get Plenty of Rest

    Let’s face it: A good night’s sleep makes us all feel better the next day. But getting a good night’s sleep is also critical to heart health, as it can reduce blood pressure and stress levels and contributes to the healing and repairing of your heart and blood vessels. Make sure you’re attempting to get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. When sleep is interrupted, it disrupts your natural sleeping pattern, resulting in a lack of deep, restorative sleep. There are many tools out there, such as fitness trackers and smartwatches, that can monitor your sleep patterns.

    Snoring can decrease the restfulness of your sleep and is a significant symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which is associated with high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure. Make sure to speak to a doctor if you snore during the night.

    What if I Have a Family History of Heart Disease?

    Your family’s history of heart disease can play an important role in your heart health. I saw one patient whose father had a heart attack at age 55, so we made sure to explain the importance of lifestyle modifications to ensure his heart was as healthy as possible. It’s important to remember that having a family history of heart disease doesn’t mean you’re sure to develop it—especially if you have a healthy lifestyle.

    Maintaining a healthy heart is essential to living a long, healthy life. Use the above tips to improve or maintain your heart health and reach out to your primary care doctor if you have any questions. If you’d like to learn more about how your primary care doctor can help improve your heart health, click below to watch our Facebook Live discussion with Dr. Fernando Porter.

    Want to learn more about the services provided at MedStar Medical Group at Mitchellville? Click below to find out more.

    Learn More

  • April 05, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in March 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. Type 2 Diabetes and Later Cognitive Function in Older American Indians: The Strong Heart Study
      International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1002/gps.5108
      Cholerton B, Omidpanah A, Verney SP, Nelson LA, Baker LD, Suchy-Dicey A, Longstreth WT Jr, Howard BV, Henderson JA, Montine TJ, Buchwald D.
    2. Effectiveness of Early Laser Treatment in Surgical Scar Minimization: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
      Dermatologic Surgery, 2019. DOI: 1097/DSS.0000000000001887
      Kent RA, Shupp J, Fernandez S, Prindeze N, DeKlotz CMC.
    3. Comparison of Coronary Revascularization Appropriateness for Non-Acute Coronary Syndrome Cases Under 2017 Update vs, the 2012 Appropriate Use Criteria
      Catherization & Cardiovascular Interventions, 2019. DOI: 1002/ccd.27895
      Case BC, Geiser KM, Torguson R, Pichard AD, Satler LF, Waksman R, Ben-Dor I.
    4. We Want To Know: Patient Comfort Speaking up About Breakdowns in Care and Patient Experience
      BMJ Quality & Safety ,2019. DOI: 10.1136/bmjqs-2018-008159
      Fisher KA, Smith KM, Gallagher TH, Huang JC, Borton JC, Mazor KM.
    5. Regionalization of Retroperitoneal Sarcoma Surgery to High-Volume Hospitals: Missed Opportunities for Outcome Improvement
      Journal of Hand Surgery,
      2019. DOI: 10.1200/JOP.18.00349
      Villano AM, Zeymo A, McDermott J, Barrak D, Unger KR, Shara NM, Chan KS, Al-Refaie WB.
  • April 05, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    MedStar Health strives to provide associates with the tools and learning opportunities to succeed in the ever-changing healthcare industry. To accomplish this, associates are encouraged to take advantage of MedStar’s Educational Assistance program and unique partnerships with local universities and colleges, including Georgetown University. 

    The Georgetown University’s Executive Masters and Certificate programs address the growing need for sustainable improvements in patient safety and quality education. Through these valuable opportunities, students learn from national experts who have shaped the patient safety and quality landscape, and collaborate with other learners within the healthcare industry.

    Executive Masters Program in Clinical Quality, Safety and Leadership

    • Immerse yourself in advanced theory and concepts of healthcare quality, patient safety science, and organizational leadership
    • 16-month online program, with a four day onsite networking opportunity held at Georgetown University in D.C.
    • Full-time or part-time enrollment available

    Executive Certificate in Patient Safety and Quality

    • Practice fundamental concepts of systems-thinking, improvement science, and data collection, organization, and analyses
    • Six-month online certificate

    Executive Certificate in Healthcare Safety and Leadership

    • Gain insight on how to become a leader in an ever-changing healthcare system
    • Six-month  online certificate 

    Learn more about the programs and apply online.

    Note: Participation in Georgetown University’s Executive Masters and Certificate programs may be eligible for Educational Assistance. Refer to your entity’s policy for more information.