How Do I Treat Dry Knees?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Dry knees can be treated with intensive moisturizers as well as prescription drugs that address persistent dry skin. The knees can be a common site for dryness and irritation because the skin bends and flexes so much, especially when people kneel frequently as part of their work. Gardeners, for example, may notice persistent dryness in their knees. If symptoms like a rash, changes in skin color, intense itchiness, or pain develop, the patient should see a dermatologist for an evaluation.

Changing body soaps may help with dry knees. Some soaps tend to be drying, and this may show up around the knees and elbows first. A moisturizing soap can be helpful, especially if it is unscented, as scents may include alcohol and other chemicals that may cause dry skin. After bathing, patients should pat their skin dry and apply an intensive moisturizer. A skin oil may help with especially dry skin, particularly if it contains vitamin E oil, and the patient should give it time to fully soak in before dressing.

For especially dry skin, an overnight treatment with an intensive moisturizer may be beneficial. Patients can apply a layer of cream or gel and use wraps or leg warmers to keep it from smearing. The moisturizer will have time to soften the skin all night, and may make the knees feel softer. Exfoliating upper layers of dry skin with special creams and scrub brushes may also help with dry knees.


People who engage in activities like swimming or outdoor sports where their knees are frequently wet or exposed to sunlight may find that dry knees are a persistent problem. After sports activities they should wash thoroughly and apply moisturizer to keep their knees in good condition. Gel pads can be useful to cushion the knees during kneeling tasks and limit irritation. It may also help to wear a sunscreen with SPF protection to minimize UV damage to exposed knees.

If none of these measures work, the patient may have eczema, allergies, or another condition that is causing dry skin. A dermatologist can evaluate the patient and provide some medications to try. Topical creams can soothe dry skin directly, and oral medications may address allergies and other problems. It can take several days for a medication to start working, and it is important to use it consistently. Irregular applications of topical creams, for example, may not resolve dry knees.


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