What Can I Do for Dark, Dry Elbows?

by Celeigh O'Neil ; Updated July 18, 2017

Young woman applying lotion to her arm.

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While dry elbows already serve up discomfort, they are also prone to discoloration. Dead skin cells naturally darken over time or when exposed to the sun in excess. Even the driest elbow skin is thin and needs to be treated with care. Gentle treatment and daily nourishment will remove dead skin and create an even, lighter tone once again.


Use an exfoliating scrub to remove flaky skin while evening its tone. Purchase a fine-grained scrub in stores, or make your own at home using natural ingredients. Pour 1/2 teaspoon of wheat germ, 2 tablespoons of oats, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and 1/4 cup of cream in a bowl and mix with a spoon. Smooth the scrub over dry skin with the palm of your hand, working it in using a circular motion before rinsing with warm water. Use a scrub twice a week before showering for best results.


Add hydrating products to your cleansing routine for maximum absorption. Coat your elbows with a thick layer of petroleum jelly while dry and rinse it off in the shower to help lock in the moisture from your creamy cleanser. For added hydration, cleanse your skin with a nourishing shower oil on a shower puff to soften skin. Rinse with warm water and keep your shower time under 10 minutes to avoid stripping your skin of natural oils.


Switch up your usual moisturizer for a product specific to dehydrated skin. Smooth a quarter-size amount of thick, emollient cream over each elbow while damp, to allow it to absorb deeply. Emollient creams create a barrier on the skin to keep hydration intact and protect it from drying aggressors. Sunflower-seed oil and lanolin are common emollients found in moisturizers. Apply moisturizer daily after showering and at night before bed.


Combat darkness due to dryness with products that gently even skin tone. Massage a quarter-sized amount of lightening serum into each elbow. Choose a serum containing containing vitamin C, glycolic acid, kojic acid or licorice extract. These help to slough off dead, dark skin cells and prevent an overproduction of pigment-causing melanin. Add a layer of sunscreen to dark patches when heading out for the day to keep sun exposure from altering the tone further.

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About the Author

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.