Nourishing Dry & Chapped Hands, Elbows & Heels

Here’s an assortment of recipes and tips to try for nourishing dry and chapped skin (including notes for getting rid of dark patches), and other trouble spots you may have.

CareHomemade Balm:

1 C. Cocoa Butter
1 C. Shea Butter
1/2 C. Jojoba Oil
1/4 C. Beeswax

  • If you have a large enough Pyrex measuring cup, place ingredients in that or a deep casserole dish of some kind will work too. Arrange foil loosely over the top (for steam to escape).
  • Heat in oven at 180°F for two hours or until all ingredients are melted.
  • Stir very well, pour into heat proof jars with mouths large enough for hand to get in. Once cool, attach lids and let set fully.
  • Use as needed on trouble spots (it doesn’t take much).

Alternative Tips:

If commercial products and balms are too harsh for sensitivities or allergies (due to perfumes, additives, etc.), a couple quick & easy DIY remedies:

  • Crisco Shortening (Plain)
  • Mineral or Baby Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Vaseline – Coat hands then cover in cotton gloves (at bedtime)

Dark patches on elbows can be caused by heavy use (such as leaning on them all the time) and neglect if not tended to regularly.

More Home Remedies

Here are a few treatments I’ve collected to help clean those up. If it’s a painful case (deep cracks, sore), consult a doctor since you might have a condition that can easily be cleared up with a prescription.


1/4 C. brown sugar
1/8 C. olive oil

  • Mix ingredients in a bowl. Massage into location (including knees, ankles, etc). Wash after 30 mins.

Crisco (or any other lard):

  • Before bed rub lard into patches then slide on a pair of clean cut socks (they work as protectors). Repeat every night until condition clears.

Lemon Salt:

  • Squeeze the juice out of two quarter wedges of a lemon, add salt, scrub lightly, attempting to slough away the dead flakes/tissue. Take the wedges and lean elbows on them (one on each). Rest like this for 10 mins. Do daily until the discoloration disappears.

Lemon Soft Scrub:

  • Mix fresh lemon juice and baking soda to make a thick paste, cover location. Gently rub in to exfoliate and leave to sit for about 15 mins. Remove and apply a moisturizer or Vaseline.

Rehydrating Solution:

  • Exfoliate with a favorite scrub or loofah, soak elbows in warm water for 10 minutes. Apply Vaseline. If done right after a hot bath or shower, this will have the same effect.

Basic Maintenance: Exfoliate roughness daily then slather on honey, petroleum jelly or a rich moisturizer. If using honey, leave on for 30 minutes before washing off.

Tip: Take a clean sock, remove two open ends, and slide on over elbows when applying treatment to try to protect any from coming off (especially good for overnight therapies). You could also wrap them in plastic wrap.

If patches are thick and quite dark, several regular treatments will be required to clear up.

Summertime means strappy sandals and barefeet since it’s more comfortable for our tootsies to breathe in hot weather than to keep them bundled up in shoes. For some this leads to problem dry patches which can progress to the point where it starts cracking and painful (especially around the heels).

Another option to help soothe and repair damage:

  • Soak in a warm foot bath for about 15 minutes. See this page for assorted recipes.
  • Pat with a towel to remove dampness then gently use a pumice stone.
  • Slather a rich cream, Crisco lard or petroleum jelly all over.
  • Put on a pair of socks to protect the layer of moisturizer so that the body has a chance to absorb it. Rinse away in the morning when showering.
  • Do each night until condition is healed.

If there’s no improvement after a couple weeks, the problem may not be as simple as dry skin but could be a fungus. Spray area with apple cider vinegar and let it sit for about a half hour before soaking in the bath. You could also try one of these.

For rough areas on feet, try this simple recipe to pamper yourself while giving tootsies some TLC.

3 TBS used coffee grounds (fine)
1 TBS flour
1 TBS heavy cream (whipping)
1 tsp cornmeal
1 to 2 tsp EVOO
2 drops lavender EO
2 drops tea tree

  • In a small glass bowl, mix the coffee grounds, cornmeal and EVOO.
  • Next add the cream and flour to make a thin paste. Add the EOs and blend well.
  • Softly massage into skin, making sure to focus on problem areas. Rinse off completely, pat with a towel, apply favorite moisturizer.

A layer of olive oil is also helpful.

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    • Lou Stasny

    Hi Lissa, your Every Night Manicure sounds wonderful. I am going to try it today.

    • Lissa

    For an Every NIght manicure, slather hands up to the wrist with any lotion, or oil – I like Aquaphor; it’s thick, and for this, thick works extremely well – slather onto hands, slip into rubber gloves, do the dishes. Or any chore involving hot water. Remove the gloves, and viola’! In winter, apply Chapstick immediately after to cuticles….keeps them looking fab long past your mani!

    • akbirdie

    My grandmother used a handlotion of rosewater and glycrin. Does anyone have a recipe of making it. Her’s was a commercial brand that I can’t find anymore. Thankyou. akbirdie

    • Angie Johnson

    I made the chapped hand balm and it turned out great for a few days then turned grainy. What is the problem and any ideas of how to fix it? Thanks.

      • TipNut

      It could be that your oven is too hot (you can check the temperature with an oven thermometer) or the ingredients were overheated somehow. Shea butter will get grainy if the heat’s too high.

    • mary

    I put a thin layer of vaseline, then real thick socks on my feet before my workout in the morning. My feet look like i just got a pedi before work.

    • Lisa

    Try slathering some Vicks Vapo Rub on your hands and feet. Put gloves and socks on over it and use overnight. Not only will you wake up with soft hands and feet, but the Vicks will help you breathe easier.

    • terry adams

    For chapped hands and those painful
    cracks in the fingers and thumbs
    I use walgreens medicated hand healer
    lotion. Also the original chapstick
    in the black tube does wonders.

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