Are Dry Elbows Normal?
Dry elbows can't be said to be normal in the usual scheme of things, but it isn't all that uncommon a condition either. It isn't unusual to experience dry skin from time to time, due to climate, age, or mild allergies. When the condition does occur, it seems to affect the arms and legs the most, including at times the elbows.
A case of dry elbows can usually be cleared up with a moisturizing agent, whether it is a home remedy concoction, and there are plenty of those, or an over the counter moisturizer. If your condition is such that the skin becomes cracked and sore, a prescription medication may be the best way to get things cleared up. In extreme cases, dry elbows can result from skin disorders that only a dermatologist will know how to deal with.
Why The Elbows? - There are a couple of reasons why a dry skin condition seems to affect the elbows and not other parts of the body. Number one, unless you always wear long sleeves, the elbows come into contact with a lot of different materials, some of which can either roughen the skin or foster a condition leading to a loss of moisture in the skin in that area. Number two, the skin is a little thicker on our elbows; presumably to better protect the bone which lies near the surface. Once dryness sets in, it's more difficult to eradicate than it would be if the skin were of the normal thickness. In a sense you have more dry skin to deal with per unit area.
First, Exfoliate - Simply applying moisturizer to dry elbows may not be enough. This again, is due to the thickness of the skin. The moisturizer simply can't penetrate the thick dry skin enough to do much good. Unless you have significant cracking or open sores, in which case you should consult with a dermatologist, the elbows should be exfoliated to remove as much dead skin as possible. You can purchase exfoliating body scrubs over the counter, or simply go after the affected areas with a loofah sponge and a moisturizing scrub. While you may see some improvement after a single exfoliating session, it will more than likely take a week or two of daily exfoliating and moisturizing sessions before the dry elbows have been cured. If after two weeks you've experienced little progress, it's time to seek professional help.
Two home remedies claimed to work well as exfoliating agents are a sugar scrub and a lemon scrub. The sugar scrub consists of 2 parts of brown sugar and one part olive oil. Mix to a paste and apply to the affected area, in this case the elbows. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then wash it away. Follow up with a moisturizer. The lemon scrub is a paste consisting of lemon juice and baking soda. Again, the paste is applied to the elbows and left on for 15 to 30 minutes. Wash off and apply a moisturizer. Butter is also said to work as a combination exfoliator-moisturizer. It sounds somewhat messy though.
Then, Moisturize - If your case of dry elbows has indeed cleared up, it's a good idea to continue to apply moisturizers to the area, especially if environmental conditions remain that might have brought on the condition in the first place. There's no lack of moisturizers on the market, all claiming to do the job for you, and covering a wide price range. You might already have a favorite that seems to work well. If that's the case, go with it. Otherwise, something as inexpensive as petroleum jelly usually works as well as anything. Olive oil is also said to do an excellent job of moisturizing. We're sometimes a little hesitant to use home remedies, perhaps in the fear that we'll walk around smelling like a salad, and purchased moisturizers often have a nice scent associated with them. Just don't use anything that has alcohol in it, as it will not resolve your problem with dry elbows and usually make things worse. Alcohol is the enemy of moisture.
There is always the possibility that your dry elbows could be caused by eczema or psoriasis, in which case prescription medications would most likely be the only way to eliminate the problem. When a skin condition affects only one part of the body, say your arms or elbows, it is rarely a symptom of some other disease of the body ( a systemic disease), so you can have some peace of mind in that regard. Exfoliate and moisturize, using whatever methods appeal to you, and the chances are pretty good that your efforts will pay off.