ATLANTA - Winter can be tough on skin, even in the South. So when Atlanta dermatologist Rutledge Forney sees patients coming in with skin that feels tight, parched, and itchy.
"The first thing I ask them is, "How much soap are you using, and what kind of soap?" says Dr. Rutledge Forney.
Because nothing zaps moisture from skin faster than lathering up -- everywhere -- with a harsh, scented soap.
"Particularly using antibacterial soap all over your body. I've yet to find an arm or hand that smells bad," says Dr. Forney.
When you do need soap, use something mild.
"Everybody should understand that soap and water, not antibacterial, but soap and water are the best way to clean your hands and to prevent the spread of germs. A lot of people use hand sanitizers, and many of them are alcohol-based and those are so hard on the skin."
This time of year, it's tempting to linger in a hot shower or bath. But, for your skin's sake, turn down the heat a bit.
"When you do get out of the shower or the bath, putting a moisturizer immediately on, helps to seal in that moisture. Some people will use something like Vaseline other people will use a more creamy type of product that is designed for dry skin," adds Dr. Forney.
Oatmeal soap is good. And some are using natural moisturizers.
"Coconut oil right now is one of the favorites. Other people will use a little olive oil. Those are usually used at night because you don't want to get those on your clothes," says Dr. Forney.
Lastly, Dr. Forney says don't forget about protecting your face. You still need sunscreen, even on cloudy days. And you may want to make a switch to a deeper moisturizer, like a cream or ointment.
"So I do recommend people use a product designed for their face, whether it's a moisturizer designed for the face or a cleanser designed for the face. Those have different properties than something from the neck down."