​What causes dry elbows, and ways to get rid of it

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Good Housekeeping

Thanks to sporadic weather changes, our skin sure takes a beating – with our elbows being one of the biggest culprits for dry, scaly skin.

We spoke to two skin experts to find out why exactly we’re getting dry elbows, and how to treat the annoying problem.

Why do we get dry elbows?


Dr Noor Almaani, consultant dermatologist at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, told us other unique factors that contribute to dry elbows. These include:

  • Friction, such as from clothes, or when resting the elbows on hard surfaces.
  • General body dehydration.
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes, such as the menopause
  • Hereditary conditions, such as eczema

Are dry elbows linked to any other medical condition?


‘Some medications such as vitamin A derivatives are also linked to elbow dryness,’ adds Dr Almaani.

It’s also important to remember that the vast majority of dry elbow cases are not due to other conditions or underlying primary skin disease, but instead the disruption of normal skin. In fact, dry skin and something like psoriasis are two completely different things.


Tips to soften scaly, dry elbows:

1. Avoid using soap-based skin cleaning routines, particularly harsh alkaline soaps and surfactants.
2. Try to avoid exfoliating using abrasive creams and glycolic materials.
3. Ensuring the skin barrier is intact by using regular greasy moisturisers.
4. Avoid taking long, hot showers. ‘This can lead to depletion of intercellular lipids and desiccation of the outermost layer of the skin,’ says Dr Almaani.
5. Vigorous rubbing or exfoliation should be avoided. It might be worth using cushions or padded material when resting elbows on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

*All images, videos and testimonials are based on the personal experiences of our patients and represent individual body shapes and results. Results may vary from person to person. All testimonials are provided voluntarily by our patients and clients and all photos and videos have been consented to and have not been altered in any way.

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