You’re not alone if you have ever noticed dry, flaky skin on your elbows. Many people experience this issue, which can be uncomfortable and unsightly. But why do elbows peel, and what can you do to manage it? In this article, we’ll explore the causes of dry skin on elbows and the best ways to keep them smooth and healthy.
Dry elbows are a fairly common problem that is not only cosmetic but may also indicate underlying health problems. The dryness of the skin in the elbow area is usually accompanied by skin peeling and cracking, and itching, which leads to even more significant damage to the affected areas.
Why do elbows become dry
Dryness of the skin on elbows can be caused by several factors, including:
- Constant mechanical pressure, such as when spending a lot of time at a computer, can cause the elbow to rub against the surface of the desk or armrest.
- Using shower gels that contain harsh ingredients, particularly those with antibacterial properties, may result in dry skin, especially in the elbow area.
- Cold and windy weather reduces the humidity in the air, which, in turn, reduces the amount of moisture in the skin.
- The heat from heating elements can cause dryness and cracks on the elbows and knees. A home or office humidifier can help solve this problem.
- Excessive exposure to chlorine (for example, frequent swimming in a pool) can also cause dry skin, including on the elbows and knees.
- Dermatitis herpetiformis – inflammatory skin disease associated with gluten sensitivity and chronic damage to the small intestine. One of the manifestations of this condition is localized skin lesions, including the elbows.
- Psoriasis – a chronic autoimmune skin condition characterized by the development of thick, scaly patches on the skin. It can manifest in silvery scales that often appear on the outer surface of the elbows.
- Deficiencies of fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals can lead to dry skin. Dryness typically appears first in specific areas, such as the face or elbows. Still, if timely action is not taken, it may spread throughout the entirety of the skin. Dry skin is primarily associated with a deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. The hands and elbows are particularly affected. Deficiencies may arise due to various reasons, including:
- dietary causes, like insufficient intake of animal and plant fats
- gastrointestinal health problems such as low stomach acidity, inadequate production of pancreatic enzymes (particularly lipase, which breaks down fats), impaired bile secretion and flow, and reduced intestinal absorption of nutrients due to inflammation
- hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid function), where the metabolism of vitamin A is disrupted. Deficiencies of iodine and zinc, often accompanying thyroid disorders, can also lead to scaling, eczema, and dry skin
- anemia, often manifest as dry skin, changes in nail condition, and hair loss
- Hormonal imbalances and endocrine disorders can also manifest with dry skin; some examples of this may include:
- an estrogen deficiency manifests as dryness, thinning, and premature skin aging
- a progesterone deficiency leads to brittle nails and hair, promoting dry skin
- the thyroid gland produces hormones that help control the skin’s moisture. Cracks and dryness can accompany hypothyroidism
Dermatologic manifestations of endocrine disorders
- insulin resistance and diabetes are common causes of dryness and cracks in the elbow area
How to get rid of dry skin on the elbows
If you have dry skin on your elbows, the best option is to consult a specialist and identify the cause. A holistic nutritionist can create an individual nutrition program for you and correct this condition. A comprehensive approach gives the best results.
for your health and
balanced meal plan
As Hippocrates said, you are what you eat. The meaning of this phrase concerns every person, who takes care of his health. The food we eat has a big impact on our vital activity, state of health and quality of life.
Nowadays healthy diet is very popular and everyone knows that he should give up junk food. But not everyone knows what he must eat except for grain, vegetables and protein food.
It's essential to diversify your diet. Every bite of food should provide you with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are necessary for good health.
So how can we have a proper nutrition plan?
We prepared a PDF-file to help you. It contains TOP-10 ingredients, which should be added to everyone's diet.
But here we provide some at-home solutions that may help you to improve your dry elbows:
Develop a balanced nutrition plan
Ensure you eat enough healthy fats, such as avocado, unrefined vegetable oil, olives, coconut, nuts or nut butter, fish, caviar, butter, or ghee. They are essential for maintaining skin health and are also sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Vitamins A and D promote skin renewal and reduce the amount of keratinized skin cells.
Vitamin A is extremely important for skin health. It is exclusively found in animal tissues such as cod liver, the liver of animals (rabbit, duck, beef, chicken), eggs, and butter made from milk of grass-fed cows. Precursors of vitamin A (carotenoids which are converted to vitamin A) are found in plant-based foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, persimmons, apricots, tomatoes, leeks, broccoli, cantaloupe, sorrel, and spinach, as well as in sea buckthorn.
Another crucial nutrient for skin hydration is zinc. The daily requirement for this element in adults is 15-25 mg.
Legumes, sesame, peanuts, and bran (up to 10 mg/dL) are rich in zinc. Still, unfortunately, it is poorly absorbed from these products due to the presence of phytic acid. Phytic acid is a compound that can bind to minerals (like zinc), making them more challenging for the body to absorb efficiently.
Fermentation and marination of meat and fish with the addition of citrus or vinegar; and malting, or sprouting cereals, seeds, and legumes helps eliminate phytic acid and improve the absorption of minerals.
Mollusks, mushrooms, egg yolks, liver, and other meat have higher zinc content than plant-based sources (10-30 mg/dL). As such, consuming them daily is recommended to help manage dry skin.
Zinc absorption can be impaired in people with frequent and prolonged infectious diseases, especially children. Reduced zinc in the blood is also common in people with high blood sugar, both chronically and short-term, for example, after a sweet lunch (a piece of cake and sweetened tea or coffee).
Support your gastrointestinal tract
The proper functioning of the digestive system is key for efficiently absorbing all nutrients, including those necessary for skin health.
- You can support your stomach by marinating meat and fish before cooking in vinegar or citrus juice, for their acidity and kiwi or pineapple, for their enzymatic action. This can help the stomach absorb proteins from your food. Proteins are made of amino acids, necessary building blocks of many bodily structures, including the skin.
- It is also essential to pay attention to gallbladder health and the quality of bile because bile is needed to process fats from the diet. Fats and fat-soluble vitamins are crucial for maintaining the skin’s moisture level. Start your morning routine with a glass of warm water. Remember to maintain your water intake throughout the day since bile is 98% water. Support gallbladder function with lecithin – a compound found in foods such as eggs, sunflower seeds, and liver.
- Avoid deficiencies in pancreatic enzymes by consuming a diverse diet. Natural enzymes that help digest food can be found in plant foods such as green vegetables, fruits, and berries. As such, it’s essential to consume them during every meal.
- Do not ignore abdominal bloating. If it occurs regularly, it is not normal. It could be a sign of a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO can disrupt enzyme work and impairs the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Remember that excessive gluten consumption can diminish nutrient absorption in the intestines by damaging the villi lining the small intestine. This can sometimes lead to celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by excess gluten consumption.
Remember to maintain good sleep patterns
In cases of dry skin, paying attention to the quality of sleep is particularly important. Poor sleep over time can increase stress. Stress disrupts the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and nutrient absorption.
The thyroid gland is also sensitive to sleep deprivation.
Interconnection between circadian clocks and thyroid function
Dry skin is one of the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism. In this condition, the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. The best time to sleep is approximately between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.
Engage in physical activity
To maintain good health, exercising regularly is essential, as a lack of physical activity can lead to insulin resistance and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress is terrible for the skin, as explained above.
By engaging in physical activity, such as weightlifting or cardio workouts, one can increase muscle mass, boost metabolism, improve overall health, and lower the risk of chronic diseases, including autoimmune skin diseases and thyroid disorders. But exercise should be low intensity. Otherwise, it can heighten the production of the stress hormone. A personal trainer’s help can be crucial in selecting the appropriate type of workout that aligns with an individual’s fitness goals and abilities.
Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect
Eliminate factors that cause dry skin on the elbows and use skincare products
Use an air humidifier during the cold season and use natural scrubs, gentle cleansers, and moisturizing creams on the elbow area.
Products to soften dry elbows
Different types of moisturizing products have specific functions for the skin, such as helping it retain moisture or attracting moisture to the skin.
The three main ingredients that are recognized for their ability to maintain skin moisture and hydration are:
- humectants that attract moisture, such as glycerin, sorbitol, and hyaluronic acid
- occlusives that trap moisture, including lanolin, squalene, caprylic/capric triglyceride, and mineral oil
- Emollients that help keep the skin smooth by filling in the spaces between the skin cells, such as linoleic, lauric, and oleic acids
These moisturizing ingredients have demonstrated therapeutic properties in application to different skin conditions associated with dryness. When removing dry skin on the elbows, choosing skin care products that include moisturizers is essential.
The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review
Home remedies for dry elbows
In addition to using ready-made cosmetic products for skin care, you can apply homemade remedies to your elbows.
Using organic honey can be beneficial for dry skin. Organic honey has natural humectant properties, which help to attract and retain moisture. It also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can soothe and nourish the skin.
Aloe vera gel also acts as a humectant. It has moisturizing properties due to the plant’s ability to hold water in the leaves. Aloe vera gel penetrates deeply into the skin, leaving it hydrated and soft.
Natural oils from avocado, shea, olive, and coconut are also an option because they are natural emollients with occlusive properties. They help provide good hydration and reduce the cracking and dryness of the skin.
Research on using natural oils in skin diseases accompanied by dryness is limited. Researchers claim that the most effective oils for skin are those with high ratios of linoleic acid and low ratios of oleic acid, for example, safflower oil, sunflower seed oil, and sea buckthorn seed oil.
Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care
Above all, it is essential to remember that outside of mechanical factors, dry skin on elbows requires a holistic approach to treatment. Topical products alone will not solve the problem; they can only manage the symptoms. To address the cause of skin dryness on elbows, you should improve your diet and lifestyle by:
- choosing healthy, wholesome foods;
- avoiding inflammatory and fast-food products;
- replenishing the deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients;
- managing stress;
- getting adequate sleep;
- engaging in physical activities.
Following the advice in this article, you can begin treating and managing dry skin on your elbows. It is important to remember that more severe cases of dry skin require consultation with professionals, such as dermatologists or nutritionists.
- Dermatologic manifestations of endocrine disorders
- Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: the intensity threshold effect
- The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review
- Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care
- Interconnection between circadian clocks and thyroid function