Common Skin Concerns for Knees, Heels, and Elbows

Itchy, dry skin can strike anywhere, but the heels, elbows, and knees are common problem areas for many people. These areas may become a concern, even when the rest of the skin is smooth. Here are some of the reasons for the problems and some possible solutions.

Dark Knees and Elbows

Knees and elbows can sometimes become noticeably darker than the rest of the skin. The problem typically begins because the skin has become too dry and thick. Sunlight and self-tanners may also amplify the problem. Another issue can be the difficulty to thoroughly clean the knees and elbows due to their natural creases and the presence of any dry, cracked skin.

The skin on the knees and elbows is naturally thicker than other skin because those are points of pressure that need protection. However, you can remove some of the dry surface skin through exfoliation. A department store exfoliator, used as you would on the face, will help to remove some of the skin and possibly lighten it as well.

A paste of lemon juice and baking soda may also lighten the skin. Mix equal amounts of the two ingredients and apply the paste to the problem area. Allow the paste to remain for a few minutes and then remove with water. Apply a moisturizer every day to keep the skin supple. Also, avoid the knees and elbows when selftanning and use extra sunblock on them when in the sun.

Itchy Elbows and Knees

Another common complaint is itchy skin. The knees and elbows are target spots for psoriasis, and the itch could be the start of the problem. Atopic dermatitis and eczema can also cause an itch, but these tend to occur on the inner elbow and behind the knees. The itching is often intense and can be accompanied by unsightly red bumps.

To avoid problems with itchiness, switch to gentle laundry detergents and perfume-free body products. Lemon juice and exfoliants could also make the discomfort worse in these instances, so avoid the use of these products if the skin is irritated or broken. Coal tar shampoos and OTC creams may help to relieve the discomfort of psoriasis and dermatitis, but you should visit a doctor for persistent itching or a rash.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is another condition that can affect the knees and elbows. The condition causes a red, itchy, blistering rash that causes a burning sensation. The problem strikes those with celiac disease, so anyone diagnosed with the rash should eliminate gluten from their diet.

Cracked and Split Heels

Cracked, dry heels can become uncomfortable to walk on and may make people want to hide their feet from view. Use a pumice stone in the shower each day and apply lotion at least twice a day to treat this dry skin. Also avoid long-term exposure to moisture on the feet because it will remove the natural oils from the skin and cause dryness and itching.

Heel fissures are the uncomfortable splits that appear when the skin is excessively dry. Use emollient lotions and a barrier, like petroleum jelly, to keep the moisture in the skin. Apply these products at night, and wear cotton socks to bed to keep the lotion in place and hydrate the skin. You could also use a pumice stone, gently, on these fissures.

See a doctor if you have pain, redness, or swollen skin around the fissures because an infection could be present. People often think of athlete's foot as a rash around the toes, but it is possible for it to affect the heels as well. Psoriasis, thyroid disorders, and diabetes can all also cause dry heels. If basic at-home care is not helpful, talk to your doctor about these other potential problems.

A skin problem on any part of the body can become unbearable and diminish self-confidence. At Associated Dermatologists, we can help your skin to look and feel better from head to toe. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation.


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