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Itchy Elbows Causes, with Bumps, Rashes and Treatments

Why do people develop Itchy elbows? Who can have this problem? What can be done to relieve elbows that itch? Several factors trigger this issue. Let us look the causes, symptoms (including rashes and bumps), diagnosis, remedies, and treatments.

Itchy elbows simply refer to inflammation of the skin around this area. The itching normally develops alongside the urge to scratch the affected area but scratching is not a solution but rather a way of worsening the situation. As health.com notes, each cause has their own group of symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments. So let us begin with what actually leads to this problem.

Dry itchy elbows
Dry itchy elbow


As howstuffworks.com notes, “itches are always annoying, but the most frustrating ones are those in difficult-to-scratch areas.” Elbows, for instance, are very bony and have a thin skin, hard to be scratched. Therefore, it could be very difficult and uncomfortable to scratch such parts because this may lead to intense irritations and even infections.

What must clear is that the common factors that influence general body itching can also trigger this problem. Therefore, under this section, we are going to see some of the factors that can contribute to itchiness on your elbows.

Skin conditions

Below are the skin conditions that have a link to this problem.

a. Psoriasis

Elbows are very common location for psoriasis and other itchy skin conditions. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes rapid skin cells turnover. This will result to dry patches and itchy scales on the skin around your elbow.

The most notorious psoriasis for elbows is the plaque psoriasis. It can also show up on the lower back, scalp and the knees. This diseases may sometimes cause the urge to scratch the affected skin but please DON`T comply with such an urge. It is very risky; you can instead pat the area. This may sound crazy but we assure you that it will relieve the itching though just for a while

b. Atopic dermatitis

This condition causes a very dry skin around an individual’s elbows among other body parts i.e. the dry skins can also be around the knees, face, and neck and it may lead to persistent scratching of the elbows. Consult your doctor in cases of relentless elbows itching triggered by atopic dermatitis.

c. Other skin conditions

The other skin conditions that are known to cause skin itching including elbow itching includes the following:

  • Contact dermatitis – this is normally inflammation that occurs when a person comes into contact with certain irritants or allergens
  • Lichen planus – this is an itchy rash of unknown source
  • Urticaria – this is a condition caused by allergens and influence the development of a raised, red itchy rash. Urticaria is also known as hives, welts or nettle rash
  • Folliculitis – condition of the skin that is as a result of inflamed hair follicles
  • Prurigo – are small blisters that are very itchy

Generally, the above skin conditions will develop in various location. However, we will not be wrong to say that they also do develop in the elbows.

Harsh weather conditions

Adverse weather conditions such as high temperatures, reduced humidity are very capable of triggering dry skins around the elbow and other parts of the body.

In cases, you don’t see a crop of bright, red bumps or certain dramatic change in the itchy region you can have a guarantee to suspect that xerosis (dry skin) could be the cause.

The itching due to dry skin will affect specific areas and can develop alongside other symptoms like red, irritated skin or bumps and blisters.

Internal diseases

Some internal diseases including mal-absorption of wheat, liver disease, kidney failure, anemia, iron deficiency, cancers, thyroid problems, leukemia, and lymphoma can lead to itching.Itching emerging as a result of such diseases can normally affect the whole body including elbows.

The itching may accompany other symptoms like rashes, bumps among others. However, the itching can as well occur without those symptoms. Note that repeated scratching may make your skin to look red, develop rashes, etc.

Allergic reactions and irritations

Substances such as chemicals, wool, and soaps among others have the potential to contribute to skin irritation and hence induce itching. In addition, some substances such as hair dye, poison ivy also cause an allergic reaction. Finally, food allergies can also contribute to skin itching and in our case, the elbows itching.

Reactions to drugs

You should understand that reactions to drugs such as antifungal, antibiotics, or even narcotic pain medications, have an ability to cause pervasive rashes as well as itching. Remember the rashes can be itchy or non-itchy. It is also not a must that itching develops alongside the rashes. The mentioned drugs should be taken under the instruction of medical professional if they trigger itching.


During the pregnancy period, some women normally tend to develop hormonal changes which in turn influence the general body activities. The hormonal variations can influence the blood flow and bring forward certain body reactions that can trigger itching. Although during pregnancy, itchy skin is commonly experienced on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, and arms, it can also happen on your elbows.

Furthermore, it is worthwhile to note that some underlying skin conditions can worsen during this stage. Therefore, a pregnant woman should keep a close contact with her doctor and be alert to any abnormal symptoms.

Nerve disorders

Itching can also be caused by conditions that can affect the nervous system such as pinched nerves, shingles, diabetes mellitus and multiple sclerosis.


Here are the common symptoms that can indicate that your elbow is itching or is about to itch:

  • Development of rash and bumps
  • Swelling and reddening of the skin around this area
  • Formation of scaly skin
  • The skin becomes tender and very painful
  • Crusting or flaking of skin around this area

With a rash

Rashes are usually connected to this condition and usually accompanied by redness. Notably, rashes can affect any age, race and gender as well as various parts of the body.  Again a rash is not a must that it be itchy, there are rashes that are non-itchy.

 Causes of elbow rash 

Why do individuals develop rashes? What triggers rashes? Actually, several causative agents may influence the occurrence rashes. To be specific, rashes on a person`s elbows may be due to some severe skin diseases. These conditions may trigger mild rashes that may become severe sometimes. Some of them include:

  • Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Nummular Dermatitis
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Allergic reactions

Rashes that are infectious in nature are often caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infections.

with bumps

Bumps around elbows and arm
Bumps around elbows and arm

Bumps present on elbows may be due to a number of causes which can range from a skin rash to blisters. We must bear in mind that each cause will have its own kind of symptoms. Furthermore, these bumps will also have variant sizes and shapes. In some cases, the elbows bumps can be very tiny that many people normally confuse them with rashes.


What can cause a bump on my elbows? There are a number of causes. For instance, it is true that, when one wears a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt, his/her elbows always encounter several materials. This makes them a prime target to contact dermatitis brought by an allergic reaction to materials that come in contact with your elbows. So some of the common causes of bumps on elbows include rash, viral infections, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.

As we have indicated before, bumps can be itchy or non-itchy. Let us explore the examples of itchy and non-itchy bumps on elbows.

Itchy Bumps

Red itchy bumps on elbow
Red itchy bumps on elbow

Below are some of the common triggers of itchy bumps on elbows.

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Scabies
  • Poison ivy/oak
  • Olecranon bursitis
  • Boils
  • Abscesses
  • Insect Bites

Non-itchy Bumps

Non itchy bumps on elbows
Non itchy bumps on elbows

Conditions leading to the development of non-itchy bumps on elbows includes:

  • Lyme disease
  • Cysts
  • Shingles
  • Granuloma annulare

Some of these rashes can be treated using home remedies while others will need appointment with your doctor.

NOTE, when the elbow bumps do not get resolved with home remedies, please seek medical attention.

Remedies and treatments

reliefs and treatments will depend on many factors. Again the period that the itching will take to vanish will also depend on several factors too. These factors may include body biology, causes, among others.

Due to harsh weather

It can also happen due to harsh weather treated by applying topical creams, ice or even cool water. One can also try to adopt the use of rubbing alcohol or pat the itchy skin around the elbow instead of scratching. It is also advisable to apply lotion to dry itchy rashes.

Due to allergic reactions

In case of itchy elbows due to skin conditions caused by allergic reactions, application of topical ointments such as hydrocortisone, an antihistamine. They will be just but a perfect for relief provision. Actually, they will help to relieve your elbows itching substantially.

To soothe it try

To soothe the itching skin around your elbows, you can also try applying a paste of water alongside baking soda on the itching area. Remember water paste can be made by crushing two tablets of vitamin c and then adding it some few drops of water.

Try antifungals and antibiotic

Another ideal solution is the application over the counter anti-fungal and antibiotics especially for itching due to fungal and bacterial infections respectively. It is very important to be extra careful while using the over the counter products unless you are certain you know the reason behind your itchiness. In fact, you should first consult your doctor.

Try these home remedies

For those who prefer home remedies, there are numerous home products with the ability potential to relief any kind of itch. These products include aloe vera, olive oils among others. Furthermore, they have the ability to resolve many mild skin problems including dry skin.

Bedding and clothing

Again, if considered that irritation due to the contact between the elbow skin and the clothing can lead to itching, wearing the sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt can be great. Not to forget, using dirty clothing, towels and beddings can also trigger elbow itching. Good hygiene standards should be kept always.

Lastly, some itching can be life-threatening to an extent that they will require serious medication.  In case you have applied some of the above treatments and home remedies and the situation does not change but instead worsen, book immediate appoint with your medical service provider.

Warning – Avoid scratching

Do not scratch the affected area. This can lead to rashes or infections leading to severe conditions.


Itchy elbows can be due to a number of factors that generally induce body skin itching. This is a common problem to anybody whether a child, an adult, female or male. Some elbow itching can be mild or severe depending on their roots. It is important to work very closely with health professionals to provide suitable advice or appropriate medications.

List of Reference
  1. http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/why-do-elbows-itch.htm
  2. http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/symptoms/elbow_itch/treatments.htm
  3. http://www.winonadailynews.com/news/connections/handling-itchy-elbow-syndrome/article_de9ba815-4bac-5439-bc63-edcde135da28.html
  4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/88072-home-remedies-dry-itchy-skin/
  5. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/common-rashes
  6. http://howshealth.com/how-to-get-rid-of-itchy-rash-on-the-knees-and-elbows/
  7. http://www.healthline.com/health/itching
  8. Bumps on Elbows: http://healthh.com/bumps-on-elbows/
  9. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping-with-cancer/coping-physically/skin/managing/dealing-with-itching

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