How to Remove Dark Stains From Elbows

Frequent use of lotion seals in moisture.
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Elbows are an often neglected part of the body; harsh weather, sun exposure, excessive bathing or frequent leaning and bending can create a buildup of dark and scaly skin thicker than an elephant's elbow. Left untreated, those dry patches sometimes become irritated or painful. You may feel like covering your arms with long-sleeved flannel shirts to hide the problem, but with a little persistence, you can attack those unsightly brown spots and show off your arms in sassy, short-sleeved duds.

Scrub your elbows gently with a washcloth, loofah, natural sponge or pumice stone every time you shower or bathe. Don't scrub hard, because dry, stained elbows may crack or bleed. If your elbows are extremely rough and dry, soak them in a mixture of warm water and milk for 30 minutes before bathing.

Exfoliate your elbows with an over-the-counter product containing alpha-hydroxy acid or salicylic acid at least weekly, but no more than two or three times per week. Massage the product gently into your elbows, using circular motions, then rinse thoroughly.

Rub a thick moisturizing cream containing avocado oil or shea butter into your elbows while your skin is still moist. Reapply before bed and as often as needed throughout the day.

Wear sunscreen with a SPF factor of 15 or more every time you go outdoors.

  • Avoid resting your bare elbows on surfaces that may rube or irritate the skin, such as rough fabric or tables.
  • Lemon juice is an effective skin lightener. Rub fresh lemon juice into brown spots after showering or bathing. Avoid applying lemon juice after exfoliating; the citric acid may irritate tender skin.

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.