Now is the time of year when our always-dry areas get even drier, and our elbows are one of the biggest perpetrators. Whenever Sharleen St. Surin-Lord, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Washington, DC, has a patient managing dry, cracked elbows, she always tells them to slather on the Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm from Aveeno.
“It’s made with four key ingredients—oat, glycerine, ceramides, and dimethicone,” says Dr. St. Surin-Lord. These ingredients work overtime to soothe discomfort, provide much-needed moisture, and seal in all that goodness into your skin while keeping dry air out. Though the formula is designed to calm eczema flare-ups, it can be repurposed to treat pretty much any type of extra-dry skin.
The star of the Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm ($31) formula is none other than derm-beloved colloidal oatmeal, an ingredient you’ll find in a number of Aveeno products thanks to its ability to its unparalleled reputation for soothing and softening skin. It forms a protective and hydrating seal over the surface of the skin and contains anti-inflammatory avenanthremides to help calm any irritation.
Next up is glycerin, aka the “unsung hero of winter skin hydration, which gives the balm its buttery texture. It’s a humectant, which means it attracts moisture into the skin to give it a tall drink of hydration. Then, there are ceramides, which are like “the cement holds the keratinocytes, or skin cells, together to avoid loss of moisture,” says Dr. St. Surin-Lord. Finally, the formula includes dimethicone, a silicone that seals in the moisture your elbows need to heal from their dry, cracked state (and yes—silicones are totally safe to use topically).
Your best bet for smoothing and soothing the skin on your elbows is to start with some in-shower gentle exfoliation before applying the balm. “Exfoliants, like glycolic acid or another AHA, or a fruit enzyme, like papaya or pineapple, are very helpful to lessen existing dead cell buildup,” board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD, previously told Well+Good. “Massage it into your elbows and leave it on for several minutes before washing it off so that the enzymes can work to dislodge the dead cells at the surface.”
Then, go ahead and slather on the Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm (which you can use once or twice a day—just note that you don’t have to exfoliate every time!). Pro tip: Put it on right after you get out of the shower so that it can sink in deeper (fun fact: moisturizing ingredients penetrate better on wet skin) and seal in whatever water is left on your skin. Your elbows will be endlessly grateful.
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