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Dry, Cracked Elbows

Dry, Cracked Elbows Dry, Cracked Elbows

Overview

If your elbows are rough and cracked, you don't have to resign yourself to wearing long-sleeved shirts. Instead, attack the cause of your dry elbows. Dry elbows may be caused by the weather or the conditions in your home. Consult your doctor before using home remedies or over-the-counter products to treat your dry elbows.

Causes

Dry skin, known medically as xerosis, is caused by taking hot showers or baths, which may deplete the skin of moisture; washing your elbows with harsh soaps; dry air either in the home or from extreme weather conditions; and underlying skin conditions like psoriasis, a buildup of dead skin that causes rough, itchy scales on the skin. Your doctor can determine the cause of your dry elbows and help you find the best way to treat your particular condition.

Significance

If you are experiencing dry, cracked elbows, you may notice pain or irritation when you bend your arms. Your elbows may also itch. Scratching dry skin may cause infection because the bacteria underneath your fingernails may enter through the cracks in your skin. If the skin on your elbows looks red or swollen or is particularly painful, consult your doctor for an antibiotic treatment to treat the infection.

Home Remedies

In the article "34 Reasons to Load Up on Lemons," "Reader's Digest" recommends using lemon juice as a home remedy to treat dry, itchy elbows. Mix baking soda with a few drops of lemon juice to make a thick paste, then exfoliate your elbows with the paste for several minutes to remove dead skin cells. Rinse with water, then pat your elbows dry and moisturize them with a thick moisturizer. Repeat several times, until your elbows are completely smooth.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

MayoClinic.com suggests using thick over-the-counter moisturizers to soothe and eliminate dry skin. Switch out your regular clothing detergent with fragrance-free, natural detergent that will not irritate your skin. Replace your bath soap with a moisturizing soap that contains oils and fats and does not contain fragrances. Use a humidifier to help add moisture to the air that can be absorbed by the skin cells, notes MayoClinic.com.

Expert Insight

The skin on the elbows may become particularly dry, but you can moisturize the area with vegetable shortening from the grocery store, says Dee Anna Glaser, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Slather vegetable shortening on your elbows before bed and wear long-sleeved pajamas. When you wake up in the morning, the skin on your elbows will be smoother and softer, says Dr. Glaser.

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