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6 Ways to Soften the Feel of Dry and Rough Elbows

woman touching elbow

Our elbows tend to be one of the most neglected parts of our skincare routine. As long as our skin feels soft and smooth all over, we don’t often give it a second thought. 

However, not giving our elbows enough tender loving care can lead to dry and rough skin build-up. It could cause a lot of irritation and discomfort. Not to mention, it could make you feel self-conscious when wearing sleeveless tops or dresses.

Luckily, there are several remedies to soothe the look of dry, scaly, and rough skin on the elbows. Join us as we share the most effective tips! 

What Causes Elbows to Feel Dry and Rough?

woman holding elbow

You may notice that the skin on your elbows and knees significantly differs from the rest of your body. For one, it is relatively thicker with more folds. These areas of our body often stretch and rub against external factors, such as our clothes. Thus, the thick skin on our elbows helps to withstand bending and stretching, as well as friction.

Secondly, the skin on our elbows is relatively darker. This is because our elbows have fewer oil glands. Fewer oil glands mean it’s more susceptible to getting dry. This, along with constant friction, causes hyperpigmentation and even darkening of the elbows

Here are the most common causes of dullness, dryness and roughness on the elbows: 

  • Weather and Seasonal Changes – Change in temperature has a significant influence on the drying of the elbows.  For instance, in winter or during cooler parts of the year, air usually has lower humidity. It prevents the skin from retaining enough moisture. Because of this, elbows get dry. It is also possible in areas with hot and arid climates. 
  • Frequent swimming – Chlorine and other elements in swimming pools can contribute to dry skin.
  • Frequent baths/showers – They can strip the skin of natural oils and moisture. It’s especially damaging if hot water is often used. 
  • Harsh skincare products – Applying harsh soaps and chemicals on the skin contributes to the skin’s dryness.
  • Inadequate care of the elbows – Not moisturizing and giving enough care to the elbows also lead to its drying and roughening.
  • Build-up of dead skin – Dead skin could build up with a lack of exfoliation or cleaning of the elbows. 
  • Sun Damage – Too much sun exposure also causes dry elbows. 
  • General Body Dehydration – Skin needs enough water to stay moisturized.
  • Aging – Elbows may be the first to lose the ability to hold in moisture in the skin because they have fewer oil glands. It can simply be a sign of aging skin. 
  • Friction – Constant exposure to other outside factors makes elbows vulnerable. Frequent leaning, bumping, or being in contact with clothes and furniture, among others, can make elbows drier and rougher. 

How to Soften the Feel of Dry and Rough Elbows

Lifestyle changes, like exfoliating and moisturizing your skin, can remedy and control the look of dry skin. Below are the ways to manage the feel of dry and rough skin around the elbows:

Regularly Exfoliate

Exfoliating is the act of scrubbing off dead skin that has built upon the surface. There are three ways to exfoliate: physical, chemical, and enzymatic.

Physical exfoliation uses small granules or other exfoliation tools, while chemical exfoliation uses different types of acid treatments. Enzymatic exfoliation uses natural ingredients and is much gentler than chemical exfoliation. 

Exfoliating has tons of benefits and is essential if you want to have soft-feeling skin on the elbows. Not only does it expose healthy-looking skin cells, but it also aids in the absorption of other skincare products and treatments. 

There are several exfoliating products out there, but one that’s both gentle and effective is the Bionyx Salt Scrub. This scrub can be used once or twice a week (depending on your skin type) for elbows that immediately look and feel brighter and softer.

Keep Your Elbows Moisturized

woman moisturizing elbow

For dry skin, moisturizing is absolutely necessary. If you do this for your face or other parts of your body, it’s time to apply it on your elbows too. Remember, elbows lack the glands that keep them lubricated, making them feel a lot drier than the rest of our body. 

It is important to choose the right moisturizer for your skin. One popular option is the Bionyx Body Butter. This rich and velvety formula will provide your elbows with the ingredients that they really need, leaving them looking their best again. 

It’s usually best to go with a body care product for the elbows, rather than something designed for the face. That being said, facial moisturizers will still work well on the elbows – the only issue is that they usually cost more! The Rhodium Essential Day Cream from Bionyx works well, or you could look for any moisturizer that contains some of the following ingredients:

  • Shea or cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Almond oil
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Corn oil
  • Castor oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Honey

You may also use petroleum jelly or similar moisturizing and hydrating creams, lotions, or ointments. For people with severe cases of elbows that feel rough and dry, topical creams are available and may be helpful.

It is important to apply moisturizers daily to treat the look of dry skin on the elbows. You can do it right after taking a shower. Once winter or the cooler part of the year arrives, you may want to consider switching to a non-alcoholic moisturizer.  

Re-Examine Routines Involving Water

woman taking bath

Drinking enough water daily has tremendous benefits for the body, including the skin. On the outside, however, prolonged contact with too much water has its cons. Water evaporates when it touches the skin, taking with it your natural oils. Because of this, it would be best to regulate how long and how frequently you expose yourself to water

However, frequency is not all that matters. While taking cold showers or diving in cold water does not sound pleasing, it’s beneficial to avoid hot water. Regularly bathing, showering, or swimming in hot water can dry and damage the skin around the elbows. It’s best to use lukewarm – or cooler water.  

Additionally, avoid abusing the steam room and swimming pools. You can expose your skin to chlorine and other various chemicals.  This leads to dry and cracked skin

Rethink Your Cleansing Products

While you may love the smell of your shower products, scented washes often cause the skin to feel dry. Re-examine the products you apply to the skin around your elbow. You should avoid products that cause harm or irritation when used repeatedly. Do not use products (i.e., perfume, detergents, soap, and surfactants) that are too harsh on your skin.

Just as water, also aim to manage how often you apply products on your skin. While it’s important to keep your skin clean, it’s not necessary to lather soap in every part of your body all the time. Instead, apply soap on areas that have plenty of bacteria. 

If you’re aiming to reset your shower and skincare products, perhaps opt for those that are fragrance-free. Opt for products that are mixed in with moisturizer or emollients

It helps to look into the ingredients to ensure that the product is a match for your skin. The Milk Cleanser from Bionyx is a great choice. It’s designed for sensitive skin, which dry-feeling elbows often are. 

Protect Your Skin from Rough External Factors 

elbows on table

You may be in front of a desk all day leaning your elbows on your comfy chair. Or you may do a lot of planking and crawling for a workout. Or you may simply be using a lot of long sleeve tops. Our elbows are, in fact, always exposed and in contact with external factors. Because of this, our elbows are vulnerable to feeling rough and dry. 

It’s helpful to give your elbows a buffer from outside factors. It can be as simple as covering your elbows up with a top made of good-quality materials. This lessens exposure to hard and rough surfaces and sun, wind, or cold damage, among others. 

When working out, you can also purchase workout gears that cover the elbows. 

Moisturize from the Inside Out

woman eating salad

Drinking enough water does wonders. This includes keeping your skin feeling hydrated, soft, and supple. Therefore, to lessen the feel of rough and dry skin in the elbows, make sure to keep yourself hydrated. This is essential in really hot places or when doing strenuous work. 

It also helps to incorporate a diet heavy in food that locks in moisture. This includes food filled with fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C, and carotene. Such foods to consider are avocados, salmon and other fatty fish, nuts, bananas, flax seeds, cucumber, dark leafy greens, and eggs. 

Likewise, stay away from processed foods that are packed with sugar.

It is notable to mention that keeping a healthy lifestyle also helps prevent skin from feeling dry. This includes refraining from smoking or drinking too many alcoholic beverages. 

When to See a Doctor

Homemade and over-the-counter remedies can easily treat the look and feel of dry elbows. If irritation and discomfort from dry and rough elbows become unbearable, you should seek a doctor or dermatologist. 

Swelling of skin, the appearance of infections, red patches, or bleeding of cracks in the elbows are signs of concern. The doctor must assess these the soonest to diagnose the underlying health condition. 


Having skin that feels dry and rough on the elbows is a very common condition. This can arise from a multitude of factors. It is commonly due to weather changes and exposure to harsh chemicals or materials. In some cases, dry and rough-feeling elbows may manifest from underlying medical problems.

There are different remedies for dry and rough-feeling skin on the elbows. Some home and organic ingredients can help soothe the appearance of dryness. But there are a lot of ointments, lotions, and creams readily available for home use.

By changing your lifestyle coupled with regular exfoliation and moisturizing, you will surely see visible improvements in the appearance of your elbows soon. After all, they deserve the same TLC you give to the rest of your skin!

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