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Here's The Real Deal Behind Dry Elbows And Knees

A dermatologist weighs in.
PHOTO: istockphoto

While we've confirmed that most people's faces become oilier in the summer, we can't say the same for our bodies. Dry skin, for one, is an almost universal issue—no matter the season. Our elbows and knees seem to have it worse in this department, with the dryness leading to worse issues like roughness and darkening. At times, this compels most of us to cover up with longer sleeves and pants, even when the sun is blazing.

Fortunately, like most beauty dilemmas, ashy elbows and knees can be solved. Here, Dr. Raissa Pasion of Skin Dermatology & Laser Center helps us break down the essential deets. Keep reading to know more!

Why it happens:

According to Dr. Pasion, "The skin on our elbows and knees have a thicker stratum corneum, or dead outer layer of the epidermis, compared to skin on the rest of the body. Because of this thickened outer layer, the skin tends to be dry and coarse."

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But is this the only cause? Sadly, no. Dr. Pasion also noted several external factors that contribute to dryness in these areas, which are thankfully easier to control than our anatomy.

"A frequent cause of dryness in the elbows and knees is not applying a moisturizing lotion or cream on a regular basis," says Dr. Pasion. "Repeated friction on these joints, exposure to irritating products (i.e. rubbing alcohol, harsh soaps), a dry environment (like staying in an air conditioned room the whole day) and excessive sun exposure can also aggravate dryness," she adds.

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How to treat it:

Knowing this, preventing dry skin from happening should get easier. For good measure, here are more derm-approved solutions to help you out:

1. Consider petroleum jelly

"Good old-fashioned petroleum jelly can work wonders for rough skin on the elbows and knees. It helps the outer layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) to retain moisture by creating a barrier and preventing moisture loss," explains the derm. She recommends applying a layer of PJ two to three times a day.

2. Use humectant moisturizers

Simply moisturizing with just any lotion isn't enough. Look out for moisturizers with humectants like urea or lactic acid as ingredients for best results. Don't know what humectants are? Dr. Pasion defines them as water-attracting ingredients that help lock moisture into the skin. And similar to petroleum jelly, she suggest applying it two to three times a day.

3. Moisturize immediately after bathing

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Don't wait for your skin to beg for moisture. After getting out of the shower, jump straight into moisturizing your body to replenish any moisture lost. Take your pick among body oils, moisturizing creams, and emollient lotions for best results!

4. Bring travel-sized lotions

For midday moisture touchups, carry a bottle of hand cream or body lotion in your bag.

5. Apply sunscreen

Suncreen is a well-rounded skin care product, and Dr. Pasion agrees. She recommends applying it on your dry joints to prevent dryness as well as darkening.


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* Minor edits have been made by the editors.