Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Viddhi Patel (Journalist)  on 21st Oct 2020

Stuck with stubborn dark elbows? You could use these remedies

How To Get Rid Of Dark Elbows

Dark elbows, dark thoughts, and low self-esteem! Sounds familiar?

Dark elbows have long been the one stubborn problem that has been hard to get rid of.

Many of us have faced hyper-pigmentation, and the summers are our sworn enemies!
Since we become conscious, we say good-bye to short sleeves, and the dark knees are also a sore sight.  

Why me?  

Why can't I have the privilege of wearing cute dresses and not be conscious about how my body looks?

But many individuals have dark elbows.

Your dark elbows are the result of thickened skin around elbows. Dead skin cells get accumulated around joints and get trapped in the natural wrinkles and folds of skin. The product is a dark skin layer. This skin layer can be dry, rough and is the reason for your self-consciousness.

Dark elbows result from friction, bending, rubbing, and stretching, which inflames and thickens the skin.  

The reasons why your elbows are dark -   

  • Dead skin cells accumulation. 
  • Birth control pills.  
  • Inflammation due to an injury.  
  • Sun exposure.  
  • Skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.  
  • Skincare products. 
  • Hormonal imbalance due to pregnancy. 
  • Freckles. 
  • Age spots. 

The above causes may affect any part of your skin. Perhaps elbows suffer the most due to the vulnerable situations in addition to lack of care and attention.

Triggered melanin can cause dark spots and patches.

People who are naturally dark-skinned are likely to have dark elbows.

Your dark, scaly, rough, or waxy skin took time to develop, possibly months. Like snakes, we too shed skin, dead skin, once a month.

Removal of these dead skin cells takes place through bathing and exfoliation. If failed to do so, these dead skin cells build up rough patches.

Basic hygiene and attention to elbows and knees during a bath can help exfoliate the areas ridding them of sebum, dirt, sweat, dead skin, bacteria, pollution, and germs such as smoke and fumes.

Dark patches, if left untreated, lead to other skin disorders and infections. Give a few extra minutes to such body areas, your elbows, your knees. They deserve your attention.

But don't let them take anything away from you, overpower them! Some remedies are scientifically proven to help with hyperpigmentation, and we will learn everything about them. 

Remedies for your constant consciousness 

There may be a few times when you feel overwhelmed with some regions of your body, and dark elbows make a list every time. The need to look perfect in every outfit bugs you.

Let's look at what can be done rather than sulking over it.

One viable option is readily available ingredients with no fear of adverse effects.  

Citrus extracts to remove dead skin cells.  

A study suggests that oral supplements induced with citrus extracts help lighten skin patches.

It also helps prevent skin damage from UV exposure and even skin tone.

Vitamin C also reaps the same benefits without having to gulp down supplements. Using it topically on affected areas daily helps protect and lighten the skin.

A 2010 study tested citrus extracts in vitro. And the results concluded that citrus improves skin tone and brightens skin with minimal side effects.

Eating citrus fruits or topically using the products with Vitamin C helps your skin profoundly.  

Soy is very useful.  

Studies have supported soy's ability to reduce spots and dark patches on a person's skin. Health benefits and properties like anti-aging, photoprotective, and antioxidative confirms soy's potential.

Soy, an anticarcinogen, inhibits the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes. It is promising in treating facial hypomelanosis, melasma, and facial photodamage.

A legume, commonly produced in East Asia, reduces hyperpigmentation when applied once daily for three months. Soy also improves mottled pigmentation, blotchiness, dullness, fine lines, overall texture, skin tone, and overall appearance.  


Turmeric helps various skin conditions due to the presence of curcumin in this Indian spice. Often used as a spice, turmeric helps improve a lot of skin conditions, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and reduces dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Curcumin possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties that can help with the dark patches on the elbows.

Although the conclusions and results are not robust in skin lightening, they are efficacious in treating hyperpigmentation.  

 Hello, Aloe! 

A research study suggested that aloe vera can lighten skin.

The process, alpha-adrenergic receptor stimulation, occurs when the aloe is applied to your skin; this process helps lighten the skin.

This process can be brought into action through the application of gels or lotions containing aloe extract.

Aloesin, a chemical in aloe vera, helps with pigmentation more effectively when combined with arbutin. More research is necessary to consider it prominently sufficient to treat dark patches. It inhibits tyrosinase, tyrosine hydroxylase, and dopa oxidase. It also has inhibitory effects on melanogenesis.  

Green tea 

Premature studies suggest green tea as a sufficient remedy to treat pigmented skin. The research conducted is limited, but green tea may help reduce skin pigmentation and improve skin tone.

Green tea has shown clinical efficacy in treating melasma. Green tea also may have prophylactic properties, including inhibiting UV-induced erythema, reducing the number of sunburn cells, and protecting DNA from UV radiation in human studies.

Colloidal Oatmeal for your elbows.  

Oatmeal has soothing powers and infuses moisture into your dry skin.

Colloidal Oatmeal may help protect the skin from UV exposure, moisturize skin, and treat psoriasis. It is further assisting the skin in from fading dark spots and effectively lightening dark elbows.

Moisturize your body after every exfoliation or wash as a gesture of self-care. Topical medicines may be required for more rough and darker than usual patches.

Treatments like these are mostly salicylic acid and glycolic acid, available over the counter in low concentrations.  

Minimalist advice-  

Remedies and all is fine, but changes in your skincare routine and daily rituals and a little time and effort are required for your beauty to glow.

Wearing sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from UV rays and to contain and preserve the effects of any treatment you are on.

Cleansing, moisturizing, and protection can improve the health of your skin and decrease dark spots.

Exfoliate elbows and body weekly, and do it smoothly not to irritate the skin.

Bleeding, wrecked, and oozing skin patches may be signs of skin infections. A dermatologist should be approached for treatment in such conditions.

They are preventing the occurrence of the stubborn existence.  

Proper skin care prevents dark elbows from ever being a problem. Here are some tips: 

  • Take care of wounds, burns, and injuries. 
  • Avoid harsh cleansing and skincare products.  
  • Treat psoriasis with a regular diagnosis.  
  • Keep elbows clean and moist. 
  • Apply SPF sunscreen before running out of the house.

Treatments- a step closer towards brighter elbows! 

Milder treatments commence with exfoliation and moisturization, which may not be enough to do the needful.

Doctors may recommend retinol or bleaching cream that will help decrease the appearance of dark patches.

The doctor may also prescribe chemical peels. Peels majorly possess the ability to improve texture and tone and lighten the skin around the elbows.

Not typically necessarily, treatments depend and vary based on individuals. OTC (over-the-counter) creams and ointments contain hydroquinone, which may be useful for specific individuals.

Doctors may also recommend laser therapy. It may cause additional irritation.

Creams that lighten skin may cause irritation, rashes, redness, or itching and cause concern and should be discontinued.

OTC, if ineffective, consulting a doctor about prescription-strength creams and ointments is advisable. 

Ingredients that will love your skin!


Hydroquinone, a skin lightening and bleaching agent, treat hyperpigmentation. It decreases the number of melanocytes, which is what makes melanin.
It is used in treating acne scars, melasma, marks of eczema and psoriasis, and similar skin problems.

Hyperpigmentation is effectively treated through hydroquinone as it helps fade red or brown spots lingering on the skin.

But it may cause inflammation on already dry skin, but it usually tapers and takes an average of four weeks to show effect. Fair skin tones benefit the most from it rather than medium to dark skin tones.

However, it doesn't suit all skin types, and it is advised to use after consultation.  


An active B-3 found in yeast and root vegetables is prominent for its enzymatic reactions. It inhibits the transfer of melanosomes to epidermal keratinocytes and combats hyperpigmentation.

Niacinamide products also show a skin lightener's potential, high antioxidant activity, and the ability to decrease melanin production. It can be used to work on the dark elbows effectively. 

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Licorice extract 

Glabridin is extracted from the root of a perennial herb Glycyrrhiza glabra Liinneva. It is the main licorice compound. It scavenges ROS, inhibits UVB- induced pigmentation and tyrosinase. All of it while keeping the DNA synthesis safe, it also possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

Glabridin is 16 times more effective in skin lightening effect than hydroquinone and might reduce UVB pigmentation.

Dispersing melanin, reducing inflammation, and reducing UVB erythema are the multiple depigmenting properties of Liquiritin, licorice's flavonoid component. 


Lignin peroxidase oxidizes and breaks down melanin.

Decaying trees lignin is broken down to lignin peroxidase resulting in decoloring. Although more studies are warranted, lignin is promising as a  

Ellagic acid  

A polyphenol antioxidant found in trees, nuts, and fruits called ellagic acid inhibits melanogenesis by reducing tyrosinase activity. This plant-based acid is used in many skincare products as it effectively slows down the skin's melanin production.  

Kojic acid

This ROS scavenger is a metabolic product of the fungal species Penicillium, Acetobacter, and Aspergillus. Kojic acid also exhibits antioxidant properties and inhibits tyrosinase.

Cosmetic skin brighteners use kojic acid along with food additives that prevent browning.

There are mixed reports over its efficacy, but the acid is promising in nature.

Kojic Acid 2% + Alpha Arbutin 1% by beminimalist helps with dark spots and reduces hyperpigmentation effectively.

Other ingredients effectively used to reduce hyperpigmentation and lighten skin with efficacy are mulberry, which inhibits tyrosinase activity, melanin formation in cells and melanin transfer. Arbutin found in bearberry is favorably effective in treating melasma patients; ascorbic acid successfully treated severe melasma, bilateral epidermal melasma, and PIH.  

Last Word 

The number of OTC products may overwhelm you, and many of them are not even clinically proven effective.

Clinical trials do show promise in treating hyperpigmentation around elbows with the help of botanical and natural ingredients.

The need for well-conducted and clinically designed studies persists to prove their efficacy further and legitimize their robust use.