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 cup Cocoa Butter
1 cup Shea Butter
1/2 cup Jojoba Oil
1/4 cup 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. Loosely cover the top with foil (for steam and moisture to escape).
  • Heat in oven at 180°F for two hours or until all ingredients are melted.
  • Stir very well then pour into heat proof jars with mouths large enough for hand to get in. Once cool, cover with lids and let set fully.
  • Use as needed on trouble spots (it doesn’t take much).

Alternative Tips:

If commercial creams and balms are too harsh for sensitive skin (due to perfumes, additives, etc.), a couple quick & easy home 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 moisturized regularly.

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


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup olive oil

  • Mix ingredients in a bowl. Massage into any trouble spots (including knees, elbows, ankles, etc). Wash off after 30 minutes.

Crisco (or any other lard):

  • Before bed rub Crisco into patches then slide on a pair of clean cut socks (they work as protectors). Do this every night until problem clears.

Lemon Salt:

  • Squeeze the juice out of two quarter wedges of a lemon, add salt then scrub gently, trying to slough away the dead skin. Then take the lemon wedges and lean elbows on them (one on each). Rest like this for 10 minutes. Do this daily until the darkness disappears.

Lemon Soft Scrub:

  • Mix fresh lemon juice and baking soda to make a thick paste, cover trouble spots. Gently rub in to exfoliate and leave to sit for about 15 minutes. Wash off and apply a moisturizer or Vaseline.

Rehydrating Soak:

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a home treatment that can help soothe, moisturize and repair that damage:

  • Soak in a warm foot bath for about 15 minutes. See this page for soak recipes.
  • Pat with a towel to remove moisture then gently use a pumice stone.
  • Cover with a rich moisturizing cream, Crisco lard or petroleum jelly all over.
  • Put on a pair of socks to protect the layer of moisturizer so that the skin has a chance to absorb it. Wash off in the morning when showering.
  • Do this each night until problem is solved.

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 with 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 olive oil (extra-virgin)
2 drops lavender EO
2 drops tea tree

  • In a small glass bowl, mix the coffee grounds, cornmeal and olive oil.
  • Next add the cream and flour to make a thin paste. Add the essential oils and blend well.
  • Gently rub into feet, making sure to focus on problem areas. Rinse off completely, pat with a towel then apply favorite moisturizer.

Also rubbing in a layer of olive oil is helpful.

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What Readers Are Saying: 8 Comments
  1. terry adams says:

    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.

  2. Lisa says:

    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.

  3. mary says:

    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.

  4. Angie Johnson says:

    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 says:

      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.

  5. akbirdie says:

    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

  6. Lissa says:

    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!

  7. Lou Stasny says:

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

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