Hormones, Elbows and Sardines, Oh, My!

Let's face it, if you're a woman in your 40s or 50s, your hormones just might be going haywire. Not to worry, though, because many physical symptoms associated with menopause can be controlled -- at least that's what many experts say. For instance, dry, flaky elbows are a common problem as estrogen levels decrease. If this applies to you, doctors suggest working from the inside out and adding more "good" fats to your diet. Fatty acids such as omega-3s, which are found in sardines, soy and flax, can help reduce itchiness [source: WebMD].

Tips for Moisturizing Itchy Elbows

Rough, dry elbows are unsightly, making short-sleeved and sleeveless tops a fashion don't. But they can also be a hassle when you put on tops with sleeves -- especially if the fabric is delicate or easily picked. All of this can be even more difficult to bear if the dryness is accompanied by itchiness.

To alleviate the incessant itching, try applying cool compresses to your elbows. Another home remedy involves soaking or saturating your elbows in milk to relieve dryness and itching. Experts also suggest non-prescription hydrocortisone cream to offer relief. Once the itching is under control, it's time to think about exfoliants and moisturizers. Milk isn't the only kitchen item that might come in handy. In fact, for these tough-to-soothe areas, home remedies can be just as beneficial as some of those specialty products with fancy price tags are. For example, sugar and salt can both be used as exfoliants. To make a quick homemade sugar scrub, simply mix some sugar, olive oil and lemon juice together, or try adding some sugar to your favorite body lotion until it feels a little gritty [source: Goldstein]. Short on time? Just halve a lemon, sprinkle some salt on the pulp and rub it on your elbow kind of like you would chalk a pool cue. Afterward, give your elbows a quick rinse and follow with some olive or safflower oil as a moisturizer [Goldstein].

Moving from the kitchen to the bath, the biggest tip is timing. Before your skin is completely dry after a shower, try applying baby oil, petroleum jelly, mineral oil-based products or a creamy over-the-counter body moisturizer. If you're using petroleum jelly, experts say you can apply it as you step out of the shower and use a towel to remove any excess jelly [source: WebMD].

Removing irritants from your skin care routine is another dry-skin combatant. Your environment and changes in the products you use daily can make a big difference. To reduce irritation and itching, try using dye- and fragrance-free soaps, detergents and fabric softeners. For clothing and blankets, choose cotton versus wool. If you find that your skin is particularly dry during the winter months, use a humidifier in your home to add more moisture to the air [source: Mayo Clinic].

If after trying a variety of exfoliants and moisturizers, you still aren't finding any relief or positive results, you may need to call a dermatologist. Your physician will know if your dry elbow skin is related to a more serious condition [source: Mayo Clinic].

To learn more about moisturizing and skin care, look over the links on the next page.