Say Goodbye To Dry And Cracked Elbows With These 5 Tips

Everyone suffers from dry skin, especially during colder months, and if you find your elbows constantly feeling rough, you're not alone. There are many causes of dry elbows, including living in an arid climate, irritation from products, or simply being dehydrated, per Medical News Today. Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema can also cause dry elbows, as well as health-related issues like diabetes and a thyroid imbalance.


You may not have realized this but your elbows are put to use in a major way. You're constantly resting them on surfaces and rubbing them against your clothing, which causes friction. As a result, the skin on your elbows is thicker and rougher than other areas of your body. It also doesn't help that there are also fewer oil glands around them.

While dry elbows can be unsightly, they can also be irritating, especially if they're cracked and peeling. The good news is, you don't have to suffer through them. There are various ways to treat them and prevent dry elbows in the future.

Exfoliate your elbows with a gentle, moisturizing scrub

The first step in getting rid of scaly elbows is to get rid of the dead skin cells around them. You'll want to avoid harsh exfoliants like pumice stones, which can further irritate your skin. Instead, look for scrubs that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), which work by shedding the superficial layers of the skin, according to Curology. When looking for a scrub, make sure it has ingredients like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid. If your skin is super sensitive, do a patch test first to make sure the scrub doesn't irritate your elbows further.


When you're in the shower, make sure your body is properly soaked in warm — not hot — water. Take a dollop of your scrub and gently rub your elbows in a circular motion. You don't want to scrub too hard or you'll end up sloughing away your live skin cells. After about 30 seconds, rinse the scrub off. When you're done showering, you'll want to properly moisturize your elbows to prevent them from drying out.

Use products that lock moisture into your skin

We know that moisturizers are imperative for dry skin but if you're constantly having to slather on lotion, you may need to look for a new product. Because your elbows don't produce many natural oils, you need a moisturizer that's super-rich. Look for naturally emollient ingredients such as shea butter, lanolin, and jojoba oil. As mentioned previously, AHAs have an exfoliating effect so moisturizers containing those ingredients will help soothe and repair your dry elbows. Glycerin is also a key ingredient in keeping your elbows hydrated, as it draws moisture from the air onto your skin.


If you're feeling overwhelmed about which moisturizer to get, there are products specifically designed for rough areas like your elbows and heels. An overnight cream is also an option for those that want to wake up with baby-soft elbows. Vaseline suggests applying petroleum jelly to your elbows before bedtime for a deeply moisturizing treatment. The product works as an occlusive and will seal moisture into your skin. Just be sure to apply it on already damp skin so that you lock in the hydration and cover the area with a large bandage so that only your elbows are moisturized and not your sheets.

Protect your elbows from daily chafing

If you're constantly at your desk or sitting at a table, chances are your elbows are getting leaned on a lot. The hard surfaces aren't doing your elbows any favors so try to resist the urge to rest on them. Padding your desk or the arms of your chairs can help with the constant rubbing and chafing, especially if your elbows are bare. Place a soft towel or a small pillow near your desk so that you can rest your arms on them. You can also give them a protective barrier by wearing long sleeves so that they're not exposed to rough surfaces.


Just like moisturizing socks for your heels, there are elbow sleeves that help repair dry, cracked skin. They're made with a gel cushion that slowly releases hydrating properties, such as mineral oil, into your skin. The sleeves also provide your elbows with padding, so they're great to slip on while you're working or relaxing in your favorite armchair.

Stay away from clothing and products that will irritate your skin

When dealing with dry, cracked elbows, avoid materials that will further irritate your skin. Synthetic materials such as polyester, rayon, acrylic, and nylon don't allow the skin to breathe easily and trap in sweat, which can cause rashes and itchiness. Wool is also a no-no as it traps heat and can cause irritation. Stick with lightweight, breathable materials such as cotton, linen, and cashmere. If you frequently dry clean your clothes, look for an organic place that doesn't use toxic chemicals.


Your laundry detergent can also be a culprit for your dry elbows. If you're feeling itchy or getting rashes, you may have contact dermatitis from being exposed to certain chemicals or scents. Make sure to use a gentle, fragrance-free soap to wash your clothes. Additionally, use an unscented body wash with soothing moisturizing ingredients like aloe and coconut oil. If your dry elbows clear up within a few weeks, you'll know that the products you were previously exposing your skin to were to blame.

Hydrate your skin from the inside

We've all heard the saying "You are what you eat," and if you're experiencing chronic dry elbows, try nourishing your body from the inside, as well as the other methods previously mentioned. While you may remember learning that you should drink six to eight cups of water a day, Harvard Health Publishing states that men should actually drink about 15.5 cups, while women need around 11.5 cups a day. Of course, if you've been active and sweat a lot, you need to drink more to replenish any water you lost.


Foods rich in vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, and selenium are also great at combating dry skin. Make sure your diet consists of sweet potato, red pepper, avocado, and beans, Medical News Today suggests. If you're not a vegetarian, yellowfin tuna, beef liver, and cod liver oil are great sources of vitamins that help prevent dry skin. Green tea is also known to increase collagen in your body, while turmeric helps with inflammation. 

Finally, as hard as it may be, try to stay away from sugar and lower your alcohol intake, as they both can contribute to your dry skin. Of course, moderation is always key so you don't have to deprive yourself of all treats as long as you're taking other necessary steps to keep your dry elbows at bay.