Having beautiful hands is as important as a captivating face, and caring for the knuckles is crucial. Dark skin on the knuckles is a common issue that can leave a negative impression. This discussion will explore the causes behind dark knuckles, effective treatments, and home remedies to address this concern.
What are Dark Knuckles?
The skin around our knuckles is constantly exposed to friction, particularly on one of the most utilized parts of our body. This exposure, combined with the sun’s rays, can contribute to the deterioration of skin health in these areas. Various internal and external factors further impact the appearance of our knuckles. The consequence is hyperpigmentation, leading to a condition known as dark knuckles, when the skin in these areas becomes darker than its natural color.
Dark knuckles can be developed by anyone irrespective of age, gender, and location. However, it occurs more frequently in people with darker skin tones.
Causes of Dark Knuckles
The main reason behind the darkening of knuckles is hyperpigmentation, which results from the overproduction of melanin in those areas. While continuous friction and frequent sun exposure contribute to it, the symptoms can even indicate various underlying health conditions that need to be treated. Hence, it is essential to know about the factors impacting the phenomenon. Following are some possible causes of dark knuckles:
1. Acanthosis Nigricans (AN)
In this condition, the skin on the knuckles and other parts of the body becomes darker and thicker while feeling itchy and odorous. It is linked to the mutation of genes responsible for fibroblast growth factors and is often considered a warning sign of diabetes (1). AN is more prevalent in Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, obese people, and insulin-resistant people of all age groups (2). Sometimes, it is also inherited from the family.
2. Prediabetes and Diabetes
If you have diabetes or are at risk of diabetes, your knuckles can turn darker over time, as the high insulin levels may affect the growth of skin cells (3). It may also be a warning sign of prediabetes if the levels of sugar in your bloodstream are higher than usual and you are not aware of it.
3. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Highly pigmented knuckles can strongly indicate vitamin B12 deficiency in the body (4).
4. Addison’s Disease
This is a rare medical condition in which adrenal hormones like cortisol and aldosterone are disrupted (5). The darkening of knuckles is a common symptom of this disease.
5. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
In PCOS, the levels of male hormones become higher than usual in a woman’s body. This may turn the skin in body creases like knuckles dark with time.
6. Scleroderma or Systemic Sclerosis
This rare autoimmune disease is characterized by the overproduction of collagen in the body, which often leads to the hardening and darkening of the knuckles.
7. Drug Reactions
Intake of certain drugs can cause your knuckles to darken. These include oral contraceptive pills, glucocorticoids, niacin, nicotinic acid, protease inhibitors, etc. Growth hormone therapy, estrogen therapy, and injected insulin can also lead to the same.
As the skin on the knuckles gets thicker from within, the layer of accumulated dead cells on it amplifies it even more. So, it may look even darker sometimes.
7 Effective Home Remedies for Dark Knuckles
Though the medical conditions leading to dark knuckles cannot be treated at home, you can lighten them mainly by following a few simple yet effective DIY remedies. Check them out below:
1. Use a Good Exfoliator
Exfoliation is necessary to eliminate the dead cells accumulated on your knuckles. Only a good scrub can help you regarding this. Mix (1/2) teaspoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of sugar and apply this all over your fingers. Scrub gently in a circular motion for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse with plain water. This has to be practiced regularly for a few days to achieve the desired result.
2. Bleach the Skin Naturally
Dark knuckles can be bleached naturally by applying lemon juice and honey. Practice this daily and wait 10 minutes before washing off with lukewarm water. Lemon lightens the skin as a natural bleaching agent (6), while honey keeps it moisturized and healthy. You can also try cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it over the skin on your knuckles for 10 minutes before having a bath.
3. Apply Gram Flour Pack
Mix one tablespoon of gram flour, two tablespoons of raw milk, and three drops of lemon juice in a bowl and mix them thoroughly. Apply it to the affected parts of your hands and leave until it dries. Finally, wash it away with plain water. This treatment has to be done for around one month to see a visible difference. All three ingredients in this pack are natural skin-lightening agents. Gram flour adds to the results by exfoliating the dead cells efficiently (7).
4. Massage Almond Oil
Almond oil improves the skin’s health and helps brighten it up. A few drops of the oil can be massaged on the knuckles for 10 minutes for this purpose. Leave it overnight and rinse with water in the morning. This may reduce the pigmentation and make your knuckles lighter if done regularly.
5. Apply Vitamin E and Milk Cream
Vitamin E capsules are readily available in all drug stores and can naturally lighten the dark skin on the knuckles (8). Take the content of one vitamin E capsule and add one teaspoon of milk cream to it. Apply this mixture to your knuckles and other rough areas of the skin. Massage well for about 10 minutes and then rinse with tepid water. This is also a perfect remedy for moisturizing the skin.
6. Try Baking Soda Rinse
Pamper your hands with a natural rinse of baking soda, rose water, and glycerin. All you need to do is take warm water in a medium-sized bowl and add all the ingredients. Soak your hands in this water mixture for at least 5 minutes. Once done, rinse with plain water. This will help in decreasing the darkness of your knuckles gradually.
7. Rub with Pumice Stone
Pumice stone acts as a vital tool in manicure practices, and it acts as a good remedy for lightening knuckles. The stone works by scrubbing away the dead skin cells from the knuckles. You can use it to rub your knuckles while bathing every day.
Use moisturizer and sunscreen to keep your knuckles healthy and UV-protected all through the year. This will help you prevent them from getting dark.
Other Treatments for Dark Knuckles
Dark knuckles caused by certain underlying health conditions can be treated with medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing hydroquinone, lipohydroxy acid, soy extract, niacinamide, ellagic acid, lignin peroxidase, etc., can help lighten the skin in those areas without causing irritations or adverse effects. Some other commercial products for hyperpigmentation contain ingredients like arbutin, kojic acid, licorice extract, aloe leaf extract, etc. However, they may be more likely to cause allergic reactions. You can also consult your doctor or dermatologist to treat your dark knuckles. They may recommend prescription drugs like topical retinoids, topical vitamin D compounds, oral melatonin, etc.
Dark knuckles can be embarrassing. There are multiple factors that can contribute to the pigmentation of our knuckles and sometimes it can be the result of certain underlying health conditions too. Following a few simple home remedies can lighten the color of our darkened knuckles significantly rather than using OTC products and prescription drugs. However, consult your dermatologist if your dark knuckles indicate serious health conditions.
While it’s not always possible to self-identify the underlying medical conditions behind dark knuckles, regular exfoliation, moisturization, sunscreen lotions, and avoiding medications that can cause hyperpigmentation may solve the issue in most cases. Some of the main reasons could be deficiency of vitamin B12, PCOS, undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes, etc. It is always recommended to consult a dermatologist or physician to ascertain the exact reason.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Can I Lighten My Dark Hands Fast?
Rub half of a lemon all over your hands. Let it dry for 15 minutes. Then, wash off with tepid water. Do it 2-3 times a day; lemon’s natural bleaching properties will lighten the tone of your hands effectively.
How Can I Remove Dark Underarms?
Natural skin-lightening agents like lemon juice, tomato juice, potato juice, cucumber juice, orange peel powder, turmeric powder, etc can lighten dark underarms.
What Causes Dark Elbows?
The accumulation of dead skin cells primarily causes dark elbows. Hyperpigmentation and UV exposure are two other common factors contributing to this problem.
- “Acanthosis Nigricans,” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Acanthosis Nigricans: High Prevalence and Association with Diabetes in a Practice-Based Research Network Consortium – a PRImary Care Multi-Ethnic Network (PRIME Net) Study,” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “What Causes Dark Knuckles and How Can You Treat Them?“, Healthline.com
- “Knuckle Pigmentation: A Clue to Systemic Illness,” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Addison’s Disease,” RareDiseases.org
- “The Hunt for Natural Skin Whitening Agents,” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “In-House Preparation and Standardization of Herbal Face Pack,” pdfs.semanticscholar.org
- “Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What is Available?“, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov