Easy Fixes for Dry Elbows

Dry skin on the elbows is a common occurrence, and along with dry skin, you can get ashy elbows. Usually, this is nothing to worry about. You can reach for your favorite product, such as a lotion, body butter, or oil, to help ease the condition.

If the dryness is excessive or it doesn’t go away, there could be an underlying condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or diabetes.

This article discusses easy fixes for dry elbows and when to reach out to your healthcare professional for help.

Moisturizing elbow

fizkes / Getty Images

Why Are My Elbows Dry?

When elbows are dry, some of the causes are common, and improvement can be made with lifestyle adjustments. The dryness can also be a sign of an underlying condition.

Some common reasons for dry elbows include exposure to cold air, frequent hot baths or showers, swimming, dry climates, or a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema.

Symptoms of dry elbows can include the following:

  • Cracked skin
  • Chapped skin
  • Rough skin that is flaky
  • Mild or moderate itching

Managing Dry Elbows

Managing dry elbows can be an easy task. The key is understanding the reason why the elbows are dry in the first place. Several factors—such as weather, exposure to chemicals, shower or bath water temperature, irritants, and/or certain ingredients in lotions or soaps—can be to blame.

Stay Moisturized

To combat dry elbows, it is important to keep the skin moisturized. Certain lifestyle habits can cause elbow dryness.

When a person lives in a dry climate or is faced with extreme cold temperatures, dryness is inevitable. People who enjoy swimming tend to experience dry elbows and skin as well, due to the chlorine in the water.

Further, exposure to water that is frequent, like during showers and baths, can be a reason for dry elbows, especially if the water is too hot. Moisturizing the elbows can help with the dryness in all of these cases.

Pay Attention to Clothing

Clothing can be another cause of dry elbows. Some people are allergic to natural fibers used in clothing, including wool, cotton, silk, and linen.

In other cases, if the clothing is made of a man-made or synthetic material, like polyester, rubber, spandex, or rayon, this can cause dryness. In addition, dyes and glues that are used in the process of making the clothing can also irritate the skin.

If there is dryness, flakiness, or itching after wearing certain fabrics, stop wearing them. If the dryness or itching does not improve, contact a healthcare professional.

Avoid Irritants

Other factors that can cause dry elbows include stress, smoking, and certain medications. Ingredients in soaps and products that contact the skin can also irritate and dry out the skin.

When people are stressed, it can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Smoking is known to dry out the skin and elbows because nicotine reduces blood flow.

Medications such as diuretics (water pills) and retinoids (used to treat acne and psoriasis) are known to result in dry elbows as well. If your medication is making your elbows dry and it is a concern, contact your doctor to discuss other options for treatment.

Moisturizers: Ingredients to Look For

Products that are known to seal in moisture and rehydrate the top layer of the skin have three main ingredients:

  • Humectants help attract moisture. These include sorbitol, glycerin, lecithin, and hyaluronic acid.
  • Occlusives help seal in the moisture. These ingredients are lanolin, mineral oil, and petrolatum.
  • Emollients keep the skin smooth by filling in the areas between the skin cells. These ingredients include lauric, linoleic, and oleic acids.

Products like shea butter, cocoa butter, mineral oil, and aloe vera can help moisturize dry elbows. Research has found that incorporating specific humectants into a topical moisturizer for dry skin is important to reduce dryness.

Other Possible Causes

There are some additional causes for dry elbows as well. If you find that the area is consistently itching, infected, develops a rash, or is painful, contact your doctor right away so they can provide the proper treatment.

The following may also cause dry elbows:

  • Genetics: Some skin conditions are hereditary, such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Age: As people age, their skin loses elasticity and fat, and the skin becomes thinner. In addition, sweat glands and oil dry up. These skin changes are expected in older adults.
  • Medical conditions: Illnesses such as diabetes and kidney disease can cause dry and itchy skin.


Dry elbows are common. If you have lifestyle habits that cause dry elbows, try to change them or get a product that provides proper moisture for your skin and elbows. At times, a separate product is suggested just for the elbows.

A Word From Verywell

If you find that your elbows are consistently dry, flaky, or itchy, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare professional. They can help you with your concerns.

They can also refer you to a dermatologist if the symptoms seem abnormal or don’t improve. A medical professional can give you a plan to keep your elbows smooth and moisturized.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have eczema on my elbows?

Although dry elbows can be normal, they can also be the result of an underlying health condition. For example, symptoms of eczema include dry, itchy, crusting skin, and at times there are scaly leathery patches. The skin is also known to swell.

These symptoms are similar to psoriasis. The difference is that the scales on the skin due to psoriasis tend to be thicker with well-defined edges.

What topicals help get rid of dry elbows?

Moisturizing creams and lotions can help get rid of dry elbows. Look for ingredients and products such as glycerin, lecithin, mineral oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter.

Are there any home remedies for dry elbows?

Some home remedies include looking at the time you spend in water and the temperature. Hot water tends to dry out the elbows. The ingredients in products like soaps and shower gels could also cause dryness. Natural products that can help reduce dry elbows include aloe vera, shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. DermaNet NZ. Textile contact dermatitis.

  3. Rousset L, Halioua B. Stress and psoriasis. Int J Dermatol. 2018;57(10):1165-1172. doi:10.1111/ijd.14032

  4. Naldi L. Psoriasis and smoking: links and risks. Psoriasis (Auckl). 2016;6:65-71. doi:10.2147/PTT.S85189

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Dry skin.

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  7. Harvard Health. 9 ways to banish dry skin.

  8. Cleveland Clinic. Eczema.

By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.