The extremes in temperature can do all sorts of funny things to our skin. Be it icy cold climates come winter time, or ultra-hot heat waves like we've been seeing recently, the skin on our face and body can react differently, and in particular, can become very dry. An area that is especially perceptive to these changes is the elbows, which are already some of the driest on our bodies. Knowing how to treat dry or rough elbows can be confusing, which is why I did some research to discover the top tips surrounding this issue.
So why do we get dry elbows in the first place? "Skin on the elbow is significantly different to other skin on your body," Dr Mervyn Patterson, cosmetic dermatologist at Woodford Medical told Good Housekeeping. "It tends to be much thicker so as to be able to withstand mechanical stretching, and is drier because this area has significantly fewer sebaceous glands, the oil-secreting parts of the skin." The skin around the elbows produces less lipids that keep our skin moisturised. Issues such as eczema, hormonal changes, and bodily dehydration can be behind particularly dry elbows, but it's an area many of us will find to be dry in general.
Take a look at these helpful tips in order to keep elbows looking and feeling their best:
1. Avoid harsh exfoliants and soaps
If you already have dry, cracked elbows, ensure the problem doesn't get any worse by avoiding certain products. While gentle exfoliation is recommended as it will help skin cell renewal, avoid harsh exfoliants such as manual grainy scrubs, or liquid exfoliants with AHAs in them. Likewise, drying soaps can have a negative effect. Experts at Vaseline recommend sticking to fragrance-free, non-irritating, and hypoallergenic soaps and cleansers.
2. Keep shower temperatures down
Although we all love a hot shower at the end of a stressful day, bathing in ultra-hot water can actually have a negative impact on skin, particularly on already dry areas like knees and elbows. Dr Noor Almaani, consultant dermatologist at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, told Good Housekeeping that having hot showers can "lead to depletion of intercellular lipids and desiccation of the outermost layer of the skin." In other words, hot showers equal even drier skin. Stick to warm or cool temperatures instead.
3. Invest in hardworking moisturising formulas
Perhaps the most obvious way to tend to dry, sore elbows is to flood the skin with moisture. You need to be committed and apply daily, morning and night, and sticking to fragrance-free, non-irritating formulas is advisable. Here are a couple of my top picks:
4. Cover up in extreme temperatures
This may sound over the top, but in extreme weather, it's best to cover up elbows. I for one suffer most with dry skin in the winter seasons, when there's little moisture in the air and the cold can attack healthy skin barriers. Vaseline also suggests sticking to wearing natural fibers, such as cotton, to prevent excess irritation. Taking care of your elbows is really about keeping them away from any extremes, especially when it comes to the heat and cold.