The skin is not only the largest external organ but also the largest organ of the human body. This makes it at risk of acquiring various issues like irritation, redness, peeling, dryness, and cracks. Dry and cracked elbows can be painful and uncomfortable, especially when one is actively using his or her arms.
People with dry and cracked elbows have low self-esteem when they are in short sleeved shirts in public. Cracked elbows affect people of all ages and gender. This brings us to the three main questions: What are the symptoms of cracked elbows? What causes cracked elbows? And what can one do to prevent or cure dry and cracked elbows?
Symptoms of Cracked Elbows
The skin on the elbow is different from the skin on the other parts of the body. The thick nature of the elbow skin makes it convenient to withstand the stretching and contractions caused by the movement of the arm. The signs and symptoms related to cracked elbows are dependent on the person’s age, health, environment, and the exposure to sunlight.
Deep Cracks in the Elbow Skin
One of the main symptoms of dry and cracked elbows is deep cracks that may bleed. As mentioned earlier, cracked elbows may be painful and cause discomfort.
Rough Elbow skin
In normal circumstances, the elbow skin is usually rough to withstand the mechanism associated with the arm movements. Extremely rough elbow skin is a sign of dry elbow and is always accompanied by cracks.
Scaling or Peeling of the Elbow Skin
Dry and cracked elbows are usually characterized by scaling and peeling skin. Continuous irritation of the cracked elbow makes the person scratch the formed scaling, and makes the elbow skin to peel more and form wounds.
Gray and Ashy Elbow Skin
Cracked and dry skin is usually gray and ashy as a result of the dead and peeling skin. The gray and ashy elbow skin forms after scaling of the skin.
Cracked Elbows Itch
Cracked elbows are characterized by pruritus, which leads to more damage to the affected areas.
Causes of Cracked Elbows
Weather and Cracked Elbows
Areas with very high temperatures, especially in deserts and arid regions, play significant roles in forming cracked elbows. Areas with high temperatures have low humidity, a factor that limits or reduces the chances of the skin getting adequate moisture. Extreme cold weather during the winter season may cause the formation of dry and cracked elbows.
Cold weather lowers the humidity levels in the atmosphere, which in turn reduces the amount of moisture needed for the growth of healthy skin. Windy weather also reduces the atmospheric humidity, which in turn reduces the quantity of moisture necessary for the growth of healthy skin.
Hot baths and Cracked Elbows
Most people prefer hot baths to cold showers because they are more gratifying, especially in the morning or cold weather. There is a higher risk of prolonged and consistent use of hot baths. Hot baths open the skin pores and remove the nourishing oils, leaving the elbow skin and the other parts of the skin dry and unprotected.
Heat from Heating Elements
The heat from fireplaces may lead to dry and cracked elbows as heat reduces the humidity in the atmosphere. Heat from wood-burning stoves may have a similar effect. Low atmospheric humidity poses a risk to healthy elbow skin and the skin at large as it means that the skin does not get proper moisture.
Harsh Soap or Detergents
Some soap and detergents contain chemicals which harm the skin and damage the elbow skin. Most antibacterial soaps make the elbow skin dry-up and eventually crack. The chemicals contained in these soaps reduce the chances of the skin getting adequate moisture.
Over Exposure to Chlorine (Swimming in a swimming pool)
The water purification chemical (chlorine) in swimming pools may cause the elbow skin to dry and cracked. It is therefore not advisable for one to keep on exposing their skin to chlorinated water.
Over Exposure to Sunlight
As much as the sun is important in the formation of Vitamin D, it is equally harmful when overused through overexposure. Overexposure to sunlight makes the skin, including the elbow skin, dry and crack.
Diabetes and Cracked Elbows
A common cause of dry and cracked elbows. Diabetes allows both fungus and bacteria to attack the elbow skin and other parts of the skin. It makes the skin around the elbow become red and painful.
Other Skin Conditions
It is skin disorder caused by skin allergic reactions to chemicals or materials. Dermatitis causes the skin to itch, swell, and form wounds. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a type of dermatitis that appears when some people eat wheat products. It mostly affects the elbows.
Formed when there are excess skin cells under the skin. The psoriasis of the elbow causes scaling and red pimples on the skin.
It affects the dermis around the elbow, making it swell and crack. People suffering from scleroderma always have pain around the elbow.
Vitamin C Deficiency and Cracked Elbows
Vitamin C is crucial in the production of collagen, an amino-acid which is essential for healthy skin. Lack of adequate collagen makes the skin lose its elasticity and crack.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Deficiency and Cracked Elbows
Inadequate niacin causes photosensitivity dermatitis on the elbow skin and other parts of the skin.
Vitamin A deficiency and Cracked Elbows
Lack of Vitamin A in the body causes dry skin. The consumption of food rich in vitamin A helps in the prevention and reduction of cracked and dry elbows.
Zinc Deficiency and Cracked Elbows
Zinc deficiency in the body may lead to skin complications like scaling, eczema, dryness, and white pigments on the skin.
Dry and Cracked Dark Elbows
Dark and cracked patches appear on the elbow over time as the elbow movements cause the build-up of thick dead skin cells. The dark and cracked elbows may start scaling over time and become itchy.
Dry and Cracked White Elbows
The formation of white cracks on the elbow may be as a result of mild eczema or pityriasis alba accompanied by other symptoms like scaling, peeling, and itching of the elbow skin.
Dry and Cracked Elbows Thyroid
Thyroid glands secrete both triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones that aid in the control of the quantity of moisture in the skin. Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) causes the skin to be more moisturized and pruritus. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) effects include cracked, dry, and pale skin. In severe situations, the underactive thyroid cause wounds and more cracks on the skin.
Treatment of Cracked Elbows- How to Get Rid of Dry Skin on Elbows
Application of Mild Cleansers
One of the best ways of reducing the harsh effects of cracked skin is by use of soap and detergents that reduce the damage on the skin. Soap and detergents that are formulated for cracked skin are better compared to the other types of products.
Careful choice of a Moisturizer
There are various types of moisturizers, each with its specific function to the skin. Moisturizers that have both ceramide and hyaluronic acid or petroleum jelly aid the skin in the retention of moisture. Moisturizers with both dimethicone and glycerin draw water to the skin. Skin moisturizers that lactic acid help in the flaky exfoliating skin.
Applying the Moisturizer Immediately after Bathing
Dermatologist advice on the importance of apply moisturizer on the skin immediately after bathing and before the skin dries up. This helps in keeping the skin moist and prevent it from forming cracks.
Cover the Elbows after Moisturizing
This will help in retaining the skin moisturizer and prevent it from rubbing off.
Limit Hot Showers
Hot showers remove the natural oils that protect the skin from drying and cracking. It is, therefore, important for people to limit the time spent taking hot showers to protect their skin.
Reduce the Time and Frequency of Swimming in Chlorinated Water
This will reduce the exposure and damage caused by the chemical (chlorine) found in swimming pools.
This will make the elbow skin healthy and moisturized from within the skin pores.
Food is rich in vitamins A, C, and B3 help in protecting the skin from a disease associated with skin dryness. The body needs zinc to reduce the occurrence of scaling, eczema, dryness, and white pigments on the skin.
Home Remedies- Get rid of Dry Crusty Elbows Naturally
The use of Natural Scrubs
Applying Yogurt to the Elbows
The high content of lactic acid in thick yogurt helps in exfoliating any flaky skin. Apply yogurt on the cracked elbows and leave it for about quarter an hour before washing it off.
Applying Pure Honey to the Affected Area
Organic honey helps in treating dry skin, especially the dry skin on the elbow. Pure honey can be used together with yogurt for better results.
Use of Lemon
The lactic acid present in lemons helps in exfoliating the skin and makes the elbow skin less dark.
Natural Food Oils
Natural food oils from avocados, olive, and coconut provide good skin moisturizing agents that reduce cracks and dryness of elbow skin.