How to prevent: “Elbows have a thicker top layer of skin, which is easily disrupted by the loss of moisture,” Hawk says. To keep them smooth, exfoliate with a scrub twice a week and apply a thick cream every day. Try The Healing Garden Exfoliating Body Scrub ($9 at drugstores).
How to treat: Twice a day, slather elbows with a hydrating cream, such as Lac-Hydrin Five Moisturizing Lotion ($16, amazon.com). To soften extra-rough elbows, apply a layer of Vaseline before bed to seal in moisture, says Lenora Felderman, a New York City dermatologist. Then, if you’re really motivated, cover them with terry-cloth wristbands to keep your sheets clean and let the moisturizer work during the night.
When to see a professional: If your elbows are still scaly after a week, you might need a stronger, prescription cream, says Jeanie Leddon, a dermatologist in Lafayette, Colorado. Redness and inflammation could also indicate psoriasis, a genetic disease.