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How to Get Rid of Dark Knees and Elbows

Our faces aren’t the only places on our bodies that show signs of life’s wear and tear. Most people need only glance down at their knees or sneak a peek in a dressing room mirror at the backs of their elbows to see sagging, wrinkly, and even darkened patches of skin. The options for treating knee and elbow skin used to be limited to a dab of moisturizer and hope, but fortunately, that has changed with the development of new skin technologies.

Dark knees and elbows can be easily treated with consistent use of an exfoliator and moisturizer or with dermatological intervention in extreme cases. We’re here to talk about how to get rid of dark knees and elbows in more detail, as well as the factors that cause them so you can reclaim your confidence!

Is It Normal to Have Dark Knees and Elbows?

If you’re concerned about your discolored knees or elbows, you can rest easy — dark patches of skin do not usually indicate a serious medical condition. In most cases, the discoloration and dryness merely indicate high melanin content or repeated exposure to friction. Those with dark complexions tend to experience dark knees and elbows more often with more melanin in their skin.

When the discoloration and dryness of your knees or elbows are accompanied by itching, bleeding, raised tissue, inflammation, scales, or redness, you may need to consult your dermatologist; this may indicate a skin disorder requiring medical intervention.

What Causes Dark Knees and Elbows?

The skin around the joints endures more friction than the skin on other body parts. It makes sense that knee and elbow skin is stressed from constantly moving and bending.

If that weren’t enough, the skin on the knees and elbows could also be deteriorated by environmental damage, lifestyle choices, and even genetics. As a result, dead skin cells accumulate, and skin loosens. Over time, the skin on the knees and elbows naturally becomes thicker, drier, and saggier, with deeper wrinkles and patches that create crepey skin and noticeable discoloration.

Thankfully, you can take simple steps at home or in a dermatologist’s office to correct this cosmetic issue. Here are some simple tips on how to get rid of dark knees and elbows.

At-Home Remedies for Knee and Elbow Skin Issues

Here are some basic steps you can take at home to combat dark skin on your knees and elbows.


Exfoliator is a great way to remove unwanted dead cells and brighten the surface of rough, dark elbows and knees. A few times per week, use an exfoliant to polish away dullness around these areas and reveal softer, smoother skin.


Think "workhorse" when considering a moisturizer for the elbows and knees. Some moisturizers are formulated for the more sensitive skin on the face, while others are made to moisturize the body. The tougher skin on elbows and knees responds better to an occlusive cream or lotion. Occlusive moisturizers form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface to prevent moisture loss.


While sunscreen can’t do much to reverse dark elbows or knees, it can reduce your chances of developing this problem in the first place. Any time you plan to spend more than 15 minutes outdoors, make sure you apply sunscreen to uncovered parts of your body to prevent hyperpigmentation.

Natural Remedies

Nature is full of extraordinary natural solutions to rough, dark knees and elbows. You may even have some of them currently sitting in your pantry or refrigerator. A few of our favorite dark elbow and knee home remedies are listed below.

  • Aloe vera gel: Apply to affected areas before bed. Cover and leave on overnight.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Mix with equal parts water and apply to affected areas. Rinse off after 15 minutes. Repeat up to four times weekly.
  • Baking soda and milk: Combine equal parts milk and baking soda and apply the paste to elbows and knees for up to three minutes. Rinse.
  • Citrus fruits: Rub the peels or apply the juices to dark or dry elbows and knees for a brightening and softening effect.
  • Coconut oil: Rub onto knees and elbows for a couple of minutes per day after a shower while the skin is still wet.
  • Cucumber: Create a paste or massage elbows and knees with whole cucumber slices.
  • Gram flour and milk: Make a paste and apply it to the affected areas. Allow to dry and wash off.
  • Green tea: Apply warm brewed tea to dark elbows and knees a few times per day.
  • Oatmeal and yogurt: Combine crushed oatmeal with plain yogurt and massage into darkened skin. Allow to sit until dry and rinse.
  • Potato: Cut a few thin slices of potato and massage them into the skin on your elbows or knees for a few minutes. Let the residue sit before washing off.
  • Sugar and olive oil: Olive oil is full of nourishing vitamin E, and sugar is a great exfoliator. Mix together and rub on the knees and elbows once weekly for a softening and brightening effect. Wash away with warm water.
  • Turmeric: Mixed with water or milk, turmeric paste renews and revitalizes dried or discolored skin.

Over-the-Counter Topical Products

Today, there are topical products that do more than just moisturize the skin. Active ingredients in topical skin preparations can:

  • Address the crepey skin around the elbows and knees,
  • Soften rough skin patches,
  • Encourage cell turnover for younger-looking skin, and
  • Lighten dark areas

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha hydroxy acids, including glycolic acids, penetrate the skin to remove dead skin cells and encourage collagen production. If you’re using a topical with alpha-hydroxy acids, apply it a few times a week at first to make sure the skin doesn’t become irritated. If the skin responds well to the product, work toward applying it daily and even nightly to the body, especially around the knees and elbows.

Hydroquinone Products

For darker skin areas on the elbows, for example, consider short-term use of a hydroquinone-containing product. Hydroquinones are a skin-lightening agent that helps even out skin tone. Keep in mind that dermatologists do not recommend the long-term use of hydroquinone creams. Other potential depigmenting (or skin lightening) agents include arbutin, azelaic acid, kojic acid, ascorbic acid, and resveratrol. [Comparative Study on Depigmenting Agents in Skin of Color - PMC (nih.gov)]


Retinol can help with cell turnover. The problem with retinol is it can be irritating and result in sun sensitivity. The best alternatives to retinols are defensins.


DefenAge recently released a 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream, which has been shown in studies to have the power of retinol but without all the irritation.

10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream contains defensin molecules. Age-Repair Defensin molecules activate young and healthy cells, making fresh skin. The cream is perfect for challenging body parts, like knees and elbows, but it doesn’t feel like the typical workhorse topical because it has a rich texture and no sticky, oily feel. For a week or less, simply apply the 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream to the skin morning and night. Defensins:

  • Visibly enhances firmness and cosmetic elasticity
  • Improves surface skin texture
  • Hydrates
  • Relieves feelings of dryness and itching
  • Balances the skin’s barrier function
  • Promotes the skin’s natural hyaluronic acid, laminin, and elastin
  • Improves visible skin thickness
  • Reverses signs of skin aging, premature aging, and sun damage
  • Softens skin to the touch

DefenAge 10 Luxe Hand & Body contains ingredients proven to improve skin quality and texture, including aloe vera, antioxidants, jojoba, niacinamide, panthenol, shea butter, squalene oil, and vitamin E.

Medical Reviews of the 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream

  • Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Diane Duncan, MD, of Fort Collins, Colorado, has said, “The defensin-based technology can actually reverse the appearance of aging skin, so much so that areas that might otherwise be covered, such as the upper arms, elbows, and knees, can now be exposed again.” DefenAge-10-Luxe-Hand-Body-Cream-DermatologyTimes.pdf
  • A partner at Keller Plastic Surgery, Pamela Keller, RN, of Santa Barbara, California, shares her experience with the 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream. “Being almost 60, with gardening as a hobby, kneeling and using my gardening tools caused my knees and arms to become rough and almost ‘calloused.’ I saw a dramatic improvement in my crepey skin and roughness just a few days after I started using DefenAge’s new body cream. There is no doubt that I will recommend my patients to use the 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream on their elbows and knees, who are already asking how I got such an improvement.”
  • Dermatologist Stephen Friedman, MD, of Malibu, California, conducted a study of patients comparing one arm treated with 10 Luxe Hand & Body Cream to the other arm treated with an advanced retinol-containing body lotion, additionally supplemented with hydrating and barrier repair ingredients. Dr. Friedman concluded that DefenAge’s body cream produced comparable clinical benefits to the retinol lotion. “In the brief open clinical trial, there is no perceptible difference in the appearance of the right and left dorsal arms. The degree of hydration, texture, and color were identical,” Dr. Friedman said.

In-Office Treatments for Dark Elbows and Knees

The skin around the joints endures more friction than the skin on other body parts. It makes sense that knee and elbow skin is stressed from constantly moving and bending.

Still can’t figure out how to get rid of dark elbows and knees? Solutions don’t stop at topicals. New devices and surgical options offered in cosmetic surgery, dermatology, plastic surgery, and other practices can sometimes dramatically impact the skin around the elbows and knees.

Some cosmetic providers, including dermatologists, inject certain fillers into the skin surrounding the elbows and knees. These penetrate more than topicals and can better encourage new collagen production. In-office treatments include:

  • Chemical peels
  • Radiofrequency microneedling
  • Botox injections
  • Nonablative fractional resurfacing
  • Microfocused ultrasound with visualization (MFU-V)
  • A thread lift approach to treat severe knee skin laxity

Start Feeling More Comfortable in Your Skin

Dry, darkened knees and elbows are enough to make anyone feel self-conscious. But, with all the options available to treat them, you don’t have to keep covering up! Break out the shorts and t-shirts with help from DefenAge. Our product line is backed by science and was specifically designed to revitalize aging and damaged skin. Browse products today and start living again!

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