The first step to shedding the calluses and buildup coating your elbows is to become conscious of the bad habit that causes it. Think about it -- the skin over your elbows is responsible for protecting the joints, muscles and bones that allow your arm to move and flex. Over time, your skin will need to adapt to the pressure. You probably already know that thick skin accumulates in places that need extra protection from abrasion, like your heels and knees. (For a more extreme example, ask a dedicated guitar player about his or her callused fingertips.)
Aside from occasional bumps and bruises, your elbows don't really need all that protection. If you're constantly leaning on them (which, if you have a desk job, could be hours every day), you're causing a lot of friction that results in dry buildup and tiny ingrown hairs, which can extend up the back of your upper arms along your tricep muscles. Some clothing, like wool sweaters, can make it even worse.
Want to scrub off all the grime you've already accumulated from years of poor elbow posture? We'll discuss cleansing tips on the next page.