What causes dry elbows? How do you treat dry elbow skin? This article has got you covered. We will not only list the common dry elbow causes but also include pictures and discuss how to get rid of dry skin on elbows so that you can cure and fix the problem (with both OTC treatments and home remedies) and get back your smooth, flawless skin.
Dry Elbows Causes
The skin around the elbows is relatively thicker, with more folds than the rest of the body. This area also has fewer oil glands and this coupled with frequent movement when bending the arms makes it susceptible to getting dry and sometimes dark patches. The elbows can also feel scaly (crusty) and rough, or even get itchy in more severe cases. Dry elbows are prone to hyperpigmentation and may also get dark colored.
Some people naturally have dry skin and any factor or condition that strips the skin of its oils and moisture may worsen or cause dry skin on the elbows. Below are the most common causes of dry elbows:
Living in very hot areas e.g. desert and arid areas, low humidity in the atmosphere can deprive the skin of its moisture and cause dry elbows. Cold weather e.g. in winter, can also cause a dip in moisture levels (humidity) which can in turn make the elbows, and indeed any other part of the skin, get dry. Windy weather is also attributed to drying of the skin.
2. Heating Elements
From the wood-burning stoves to the central heating system and fireplaces, and heating element in your house may be a contributing factor to dry elbows since they tend to reduce humidity levels in the house, the Mayo Clinic says.
3. Hot Showers/Baths and Frequent Swimming
Cold showers are not at all enjoyable especially in the mornings and in the cold weather, but hot showers or baths may not be as just to your skin. They tend to strips the skin of its nourishing oils and moisture which can leave it very dry and even culminate in dry elbows. Heavily chlorinated swimming pools may also contribute to dry skin.
4. Harsh Chemicals and Soaps
Exposure to harsh soaps and chemicals is another common dry elbows cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, some soaps may have the effect of depriving the skin of its moisture and “Deodorant and antibacterial soaps are usually the most damaging”.
5. Sun Damage
A little of the morning sun can be beneficial to your skin in that it aids in synthesis of vitamin D but a lot of it can do more harm than good. The drying effect of the sun can leave your skin dry and itchy and is a likely causative factor for dry elbows.
6. Health conditions
Diabetes is one of the most common dry elbow causes. As the American Diabetes Association says, diabetes is often associated with fungal and bacterial infections in the skin, which may in turn not only cause dry elbows but also dry skin in other parts of the body. The infections due to diabetes can also be quite painful. The elbows may also look reddened and feel hot.
Although there is no cure for diabetes, and thus no cure for dry elbows due to the condition, topical creams and antibiotics may help to treat the symptoms whilst your doctor controls blood sugar levels with insulin and other appropriate medications.
Of the dermal conditions associated with drying of the skin, psoriasis, dermatitis, scleroderma are the most significant.
Dermatitis results from allergic reactions to certain fabrics or chemicals that the skin has come into contact with and is associated with redness, swelling, and itching. You may also develop painful or itchy bumps or blisters.
Phototherapy – light treatment – is usually effective for psoriasis and thus dry elbows but oral medicine may also be prescribed. Moisturizers are also effective in relieving the symptoms especially dryness and itching.
A form of dermatitis known as Dermatitis herpetiformis – Caused by sensitivity to gluten in wheat products – tends to affect the elbows primarily. It often responds to treatment with antibiotics.
Commonly affecting the elbows and knees, psoriasis present itself as white, scaly bumps and a red rash on the skin. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, psoriasis is triggered by an abundance of skin cells under the skin.
Moisturizers can help to control the dryness associated with psoriasis. Your doctor may also recommend oral medicine or use phototherapy – light treatment – to treat psoriasis and the related dry skin on elbows.
Scleroderma is a chronic dermal condition that causes the tips of the elbows to swell and dry out, not to mention get pretty painful due to excessive production of collagen. The skin around the elbow tips may also feel tender to touch. Scleroderma has a genetic aspect to it as the Mayo Clinic says. Treatment usually involves the administration of immunosuppressive drugs.
Dry Skin on Elbows Pictures
The photos below shows subjects with cases of dry elbow skin.
How to Get Rid Of Dry Elbows Fast, Home Remedies and Commercial OTC Treatments
Dry elbows can make you self-conscious and make it out of the question for you to wear a short sleeved top. Where an underlying medical condition is to blame for the dryness and other symptoms, treating the conditions the key to curing the dry skin on elbows. For other cases, there are numerous home remedies, commercial and over the counter options that can help you fix the problem.
As you will soon notice, exfoliation and skin moisturizing, coupled with lifestyles changes aimed at preventing the recurrence of the problems are key to effectively controlling dry elbows. Here is a guideline on how to get rid of dry elbows at home fast:
Use an Exfoliating Scrub
Exfoliating helps to get rid of dry, flaky skin from the elbows while evening the skin tone to get rid of any dark patches of skin. These days you have a whole range of commercial over the counter scrubs to choose from and all you have to do is to apply a dime-sized amount of the product of your choice to the dry elbows two times each week while taking your shower.
You may however want to use your own homemade natural exfoliating scrub to get rid of dry elbows as explained below:
Olive Oil and Brown Sugar Scrub for Fixing Dry Skin on Elbows
Brown sugar has a gritty texture that helps to exfoliate dry elbows. Olive oil on the other hand is known to deeply moisturize and cure dry skin. To make a homemade sugar scrub with the two ingredients, here are the steps to follow:
- Take a small bowl and pour in ¼ cup of brown sugar followed by 1/8 cup of olive oil.
- Mix the two ingredients thoroughly to make a scrub with uniform consistency.
- Massage the scrub into the elbows in gentle circular motion for a few minutes, then leave it on for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the scrub off the skin with water.
- Repeat this remedy frequently to get rid of the dryness and other symptoms.
Wheat Gram + Oat + Coconut Oil Scrub for removal of dry elbows
- ½ teaspoon wheat gram
- 2 tablespoons oat
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Pour all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with the help of a spoon.
- Apply the scrub over your elbows and rub it in gentle circular motions with the palm of your hands for 2-3 minutes.
- Wash the scrub off with warm water and then apply a moisturizing lotion or cream if needed.
- Use the scrub two times each week to cure dry elbows.
Cover Petroleum Jelly on the Dry Elbows Overnight
Vaseline petroleum jelly is an old grandma remedy that has solidly defied the passing of time to remain among the cheapest, yet best skin care products. It is especially great when applied overnight as explained below:
- Apply a thick layer of Vaseline – or any other petroleum jelly of your choice – on the dry elbows before bedtime.
- Slide in a cotton sock whose toes have been snipped off into each arm to keep your beddings protected as you sleep.
- In the morning, wash any petroleum jelly that remains on your elbow skin off with warm water.
- Repeat regularly for the best dry elbows curing action.
NB: Do not use petroleum jelly for the purpose if suffering from psoriasis.
Rub a Banana Peel
According to Dr. Ordon, a plastic surgeon from the TV show called “The Doctors”, rubbing a banana peel on dry elbows is beneficial to them. Do this in gentle circular motion to get rid of the dryness. Banana peels have been found to have mild antifungal and antibacterial action.
Aloe vera is an amazing natural moisturizer that also helps with healing of damaged skin. It also helps to even skin tone and is especially a good choice for sun damaged dark, cracked, and/or dry elbows.
Simply apply the gel or juice from a fresh aloe vera leaf on the affected elbow(s) every now and then until it gets cured of the symptoms.
Honey is known for its immune boosting ability when taken orally but did you know that honey is also an amazing natural remedy for skin conditions when applied topically? It is especially helpful in getting rid of dry elbows when used topically applied to the skin as follows:
- Apply raw organic honey on the elbows
- Leave it on for 20 minutes
- Wash if off with warm water
- Repeat this remedy frequently to cure dry elbows fast
Because of its antibacterial properties, honey is a specifically great treatment or cracked elbows.
Plain yoghurt is widely recognized for its skin soothing and healing properties thanks to its lactic acid. For itchy dry elbows, it is especially more powerful when used alongside white vinegar as detailed below:
- To a small cup or dish, mix 1 teaspoon of plain yoghurt and white vinegar
- Work the mixture onto the dry elbows
- Allow it time to dry, then wash it off with warm water.
- Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream
- Repeat this process once every day to get rid of dry elbows fast
More tips to Fix Dry Elbow
- Apply Vaseline petroleum jelly to the dry elbows before taking a shower. According to Dr. Ordon, this boosts the moisturizing action of Vaseline by making it penetrate deeper into the skin.
- Try Zam-Buk: Some people will swear to the effectiveness of this South African treat in treatment of dry elbows (pun intended). Zam-Buk is formulated with eucalyptus and thyme oils to gently soothe flawed skin be it chapped, flaky or dry.
- Instead of your moisturizing lotion, try using a thick moisturizing emollient. Usually packed in tubes or wide-rimmed containers, emollients provide a more powerful skin hydrating action. Look for products containing glycerol, soy sterol, sunflower seed oil, or lanolin. Avene Trixera and Alba Botanical Very Emollient Body Lotions are good choices to try out.
Dry Elbows with Bumps
Have dry elbows that are accompanied by white bumps? Well, chances are that you are suffering from either dermatitis or psoriasis. It is advisable to seek the opinion of a dermatologist if the above discussed home remedies and over the counter remedies don’t help you.
Dermatitis is associated with bumps and blisters that can at times get itchy and painful whereas psoriasis is associated with white bumps over reddened patches of skin on the elbows and knees.
There you have it. That is how to get rid of dry elbows. If you still have dry, itchy, rough, cracked, or crusty (scaly) elbows after two weeks of consistent treatment with the above home remedies, speak to a dermatologist. Prescription medications and other treatments may be necessary to treat an underlying health condition.
American Academy of Dermatology: Dry Skin
American Diabetes Association: Skin Complications
American Skin Association: Dry Skin
Mayo Clinic: Dry Skin Causes
Mayo Clinic: Scleroderma