Home Remedies for Dark Elbows

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You're dying to don a sleeveless top and show off your well-toned arms but embarrassed by your dark, crusty-looking elbows. Elbows are especially prone to discoloration because the skin in that area often is stretched and rubbed against clothing or pressed against hard surfaces. The friction, combined with dirt in the skin folds, can dry out and darken the skin. Conditions such as ichthyosis vulgaris, a genetic disorder in which dead cells accumulate on the skin, also can result in dark elbows. Try home remedies to moisturize and lighten skin and help keep your elbows looking as good as the rest of your body.

Exfoliation and Sun Protection

Exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells and make your skin lighter and smoother. Take a long bath to soak your skin, and rubbing a sponge with a rough texture on tough, discolored spots. Use an exfoliating scrub twice a week to keep your elbows smooth and reduce the dark shade. Elbows also tan easily in the sun, so apply sunscreen generously to your elbows about 30 minutes before going outdoors.


Dry, rough and dehydrated skin can become scaly and appear darker than the rest of your skin--this is common on elbows. After taking a shower or bath, use a towel to pat your elbows dry. Avoid rubbing them--this will keep a little moisture on the skin. Apply a thick layer of cream-based moisturizer to your elbows immediately after patting them dry. Apply more moisturizer throughout the day whenever your elbows feel rough or look dark. You also can use petroleum jelly as a moisturizer.

Natural Lighteners

Lemon juice has acidic properties that lighten skin and remove dead skin cells. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is most effective, so cut a lemon in half and place one half on each of your elbows for 10 minutes. Rub lemon juice and a half teaspoon of granulated sugar onto your elbows to combine the lemon juice benefits with an exfoliator. Coconut oil is a natural lightener as well, and it adds moisture and nourishment to skin. Combine 1 tsp. of coconut oil with a 1/2 tsp. of lime juice. Apply the mixture to your elbows. After 15 to 20 minutes, soak up the mixture gently with a towel.