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How Do You Manage Chronically Dry Elbows?

woman touching elbows looking out window

Our elbows are protected by skin that’s so different than the rest of our bodies—and no matter what we do, the skin tends to remain dry, rough and scaly. Many things affect the elbow skin, from cold winter weather to using them for support as we rest them on tables and counters. And since winter is here, we rolled up our sleeves with Dr. Rachael Cayce of DTLA Derm to tackle the problem head-on and cure our dry elbows for good!

First, Why Is the Elbow Skin So Different? 

According to Dr. Cayce, many reasons make the elbows so different from the rest of our arms. “One, it is an area that is prone to rashes such as psoriasis, granuloma annular and non-specific skin eruptions from bug bites, drug reactions, etc. The reasons for this are unknown, but clearly, the immune system likes to react, which result in rashes.” Other factors include placing our elbows on counters or other surfaces. “There is a lot of friction in the area, which can cause thickening of the skin because it thinks it is getting rubbed off. When your skin in this area repeatedly faces friction, it adapts by building a protective layer, which appears dark and leathery.”

What Are Some of the Ways to Manage Dry Elbows at Home?

Because the elbow skin is so contrasting, it takes powerful products to treat the issues that arise in this area. Dr. Cayce notes that agents present in some recommended products “can burn and shouldn’t be applied to cut or abraded skin.” She also says that strong mechanical exfoliation, like pumice stones, is not recommended as it doesn’t address the primary problem and can lead to worsening of the condition. The most important part is to renew moisture and give these areas that take a beating a little extra TLC, especially during the winter months! Here are seven products that will keep your elbow woes hibernating all winter long.  

  1. 1. Glytone Ultra Softening Heel and Elbow Cream
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    1. Glytone Ultra Softening Heel and Elbow Cream

    The glycolic acid in this product provides gentle exfoliation while vitamin E adds moisture and protection from free-radical damage. Dr. Cayce is a fan of this product for its mild, non-abrasive exfoliation and penetrating moisture. “I love products containing alpha hydroxy acids for smoothing rough areas such as the elbows and knees,” she says.
    Reviews Say: “This is an amazing product, and it’s not abrasive; being that it’s close to 30 AHAs, it’s incredible and works quickly.”

    Buy now with free delivery
  2. 2. Neostrata Targeted Treatment Problem Dry Skin Cream
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    2. Neostrata Targeted Treatment Problem Dry Skin Cream

    One of Dr. Cayce’s favorite products is the NeoStrata Problem Dry Skin Cream, which features a 20 percent hydroxy acid blend to remove rough, dry skin resulting in a silky texture. It consists of beeswax and vitamin E to nourish, soften and replenish the tuckered-out skin.
    Reviews Say: “The first product I have ever found that actually keeps my skin soft, reduces flaking and cracking.”

    Buy now with free delivery
  3. 3. Yu-Be Heel & Elbow Repair Kit

    This transportable size repair kit is perfect for traveling. “As one of Japan’s best-selling medicated, vitamin-enriched moisturizing creams,” Yu-Be Heel and Elbow Repair Kit exfoliates while softening the skin with green tea and vitamin E. The kit includes moisturizing skin cream, heel and elbow moisturizing socks, foaming skin polish and moisturizing body lotion. Dr. Cayce says this is good for everyday moisture.
    Reviews Say: “Impressive product! My feet look soft and supple after wearing these moisturizing socks for three days.”

    Buy now with free delivery
  4. 4. Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

    “This cream is your one-stop shop for moisturizing in general,” says Dr. Cayce. It provides long-lasting comfort to dehydrated and troubled skin. Because the elbows are prone to skin concerns such as eczema and other rashes, Cetaphil is clinically proven to repair these conditions! It prevents moisture loss due to the water-binding emollients and humectants and quenches the thirst of those dry elbows!
    Reviews Say: “This is such a wonderful product. Simple, clean and effective!”

    Buy now with free delivery
  5. 5. One Love Organics Vitamin C Polish
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    5. One Love Organics Vitamin C Polish

    This organic body polish is jam-packed with antioxidant-rich vitamin C, aloe vera, Shea butter and organic sugar crystals, providing an all-natural way to hydrate your skin. One Love Organics Vitamin C Polish gently removes dead skin to improve your elbow’s tone and texture while rendering soothing benefits with its anti-inflammatory ingredients. “This is an all-around, feel-good moisturizer,” says Dr. Cayce.   

    Buy now with free delivery
  6. 6. DHC Olive-Corn Body Scrub and Polish

    This dynamic scrub uses both small and large granules of corn cob powder and is infused with olive oil and vitamin E. Dr. Cayce says, “A light scrub such as the DHC polish can be useful to assist stronger agents like Neostrata or Glytone to remove the exfoliated skin.” This product also contains alpha hydroxy acids—which, as Dr. Cayce mentioned before, are excellent for treating dry elbows.
    Reviews Say: “This the best foaming body scrub because it does not irritate the skin. There is no oily residue in the shower after using this product either, making it great for everyday use!”

    Buy now with free delivery
  7. 7. DERMAdoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub with Chemical + Physical Exfoliation
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    7. DERMAdoctor KP Duty Dermatologist Formulated Body Scrub with Chemical + Physical Exfoliation

    An exfoliating powerhouse, this body scrub works fast by buffing away dry, damaged skin with its blend of AHAs, azelaic acid, green tea, glycolic acid and lactic acid. The glycolic and lactic acids help to loosen dead skin cells while binding moisture to the skin and the green tea and willow extracts aid in soothing and refreshing the skin that was abraded. Dr. Cayce says, “Don’t overdo it with this aggressive scrub. Sloughing off too much skin can actually encourage the elbows to become more rough and dark.” She recommends limiting the exfoliation to once a week.
    Reviews Say: “This is a no-nonsense, high-quality product. There is no fancy coloring or scent; it just does what it says.”

    Buy now with free delivery


Freelance Writer

Jessica Gomes

A self-proclaimed wellness junkie, Jessica Gomes is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She loves creating content that impacts people on a personal level, inspiring them through words and creativity. When she isn’t writing or editing, you can find her whipping something healthy up in the kitchen, working out, practicing yoga, reading, working on her brand, JLG Official, attending concerts and enjoying the Southern California sunshine.

You can find Jessica’s beauty and health page on Instagram @jlgofficial or her website www.jessicalynngomes.com.