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The Scoop

Dark Underarms, Knees, or Elbows?


As we enter into summer, we find ourselves venturing out with fewer layers on -  only to realize that our face isn't the only skin that needs some attention. One complaint that dermatologists hear more often as temperatures rise is about dark underarms, knees or elbows.
Dark Underarms, Knees, or Elbows?

by Kate Grant

5 months ago


The Scoop

Dark Underarms, Knees, or Elbows?


As we enter into summer, we find ourselves venturing out with fewer layers on -  only to realize that our face isn't the only skin that needs some attention. One complaint that dermatologists hear more often as temperatures rise is about dark underarms, knees or elbows.

by Kate Grant

5 months ago


Dark Underarms, Knees, or Elbows?

Many things can lead to skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) on your knees, elbows, and underarms. While this darkening is actually pretty common (particularly in people with olive or darker skin tones), it can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue, so it’s definitely something you should talk to your dermatologist about. Studies have shown that people with diabetes, PCOS or certain types of cancer are more prone to a condition known as Acanthosis Nigricans (ak-an-THOE-sis NIE-grih-kuns), which is characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. This is a condition that needs to be treated by a medical professional and should not be treated with at-home remedies.

There are a few external factors that can cause darkening of the skin in these areas.

  1. Deodorants and antiperspirants are packed with ingredients that cause irritation and inflammation of the underarm skin. Skip the antiperspirants and try a natural deodorant specifically for sensitive skin. (Ingredients to avoid on sensitive underarms: aluminum, fragrance, alcohol).
  1. Another source of irritation that can cause skin darkening is shaving. People shave their underarms and legs a lot, which can lead to inflammation and repetitive skin trauma from friction.
According to Dr. Carlos Charles, M.D., founder of Derma di Colore in NYC, “Whenever there’s any repetitive friction on the skin, the skin responds by becoming a little bit thicker, and thicker skin is often a little bit darker, or hyperpigmented.”
Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to throw away your razor any time soon, but you should probably change the blade more often. If you ask a dermatologist, they will tell you to change the blade at least once a month, and ideally every 4 to 8 uses. The sharper the blade, the fewer passes you need to make over the skin, therefore less repetitive irritation.
  1. Tight-fitting clothing or constantly resting your elbows on your computer desk could be another source of irritation that is contributing to the issue. Try taking a break from the restrictive clothing and allowing your skin to breathe and recover. If you find yourself resting your elbows at your computer, pick up a desk pad to help alleviate the pressure or friction. 

What to do to lighten dark underarms, knees and elbows?

Gentle Chemical Exfoliation.

While creating your own exfoliating scrub with raw sugar or salt might seem like a good idea, it will only further irritate the area, and cause more thickening if you do it excessively. We always recommend avoiding any face or body scrubs that have sharp-edged particles (salt, sugar, crystal), which could cause micro-abrasions on the skin.

Instead, reach for a chemical exfoliator 2x a week. Try our Flash Forward Thermal Enzymatic Exfoliation Treatment. For this particular use, you will want to let the product sit on the skin for 1 minute without scrubbing. The lactic acid and multi-fruit enzymes will not only exfoliate the area but will help brighten the skin as well.

Gentle Brightening Ingredients.

Vitamin C is another ingredient known for its ability to brighten dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Our Lightspeed Hydra Glow C Serum is made with BV-OSC Vitamin C, an oil soluble form of Vitamin C that is great for sensitive skin (like under the arms) and is combined with Squalane which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Add a drop of this serum to clean underarms at bedtime for smoother, brighter skin in the morning. To brighten darker knees or elbows, add a drop directly to the area, or mix in a couple drops with your body lotion.

*Pro Tip – One of the first places to show early signs of aging is our hands. This is because they are constantly exposed to the sun. While you are paying attention to other parts of your arms, be sure to wipe any excess Vitamin C off on the tops of your hands. This will help fight free radicals from sun exposure and lighten the look of sunspots that might have already appeared.

While darker underarms, knees or elbows can be frustrating to beat, don’t let it hold you back from getting outside this summer.

 

 

Reference:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acanthosis-nigricans/symptoms-causes/syc-20368983

http://www.dermadicolore.com

 

 

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