Dark knees happen when the skin on your knees is darker than other parts of your body. It’s a form of hyperpigmentation, which can happen when the skin makes or has excess melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin color.

While dark knees are harmless, some people want to lighten them to match the skin on their knees with the rest of their body.

Let’s look at the possible causes of dark knees and how to lighten them naturally.

Dark skin on the knees and elbows is a common occurrence. It can affect individuals of all skin types, though it often occurs in people with darker skin tones. That’s because darker skin is more likely to overproduce melanin.

There may be several causes of dark skin on knees, elbows, and other joints. These include:

  • accumulation of dead skin cells
  • friction
  • sun exposure
  • certain skin conditions, such as eczema
  • post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

In some cases, dryness can accompany dark knees. This can accentuate hyperpigmentation.

Dark knees aren’t harmful, so it’s not necessary to treat them. But it may be possible to reduce their appearance with home remedies.

You can try the following remedies to lighten dark knees. However, dermatologists don’t generally recommend these therapies given the lack of scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.

Green tea

Green tea is a popular skin lightening remedy. This may be due to its main compound, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

A 2015 study found that EGCG can prevent melanin accumulation. It works by inhibiting tyrosinase, the primary enzyme required to make melanin.

Here’s one way to use green tea:

  1. Steep a bag of green tea in 1 cup of hot water. Let cool.
  2. Dip a cotton ball in the tea and squeeze out the excess.
  3. Swipe onto your knees. Repeat twice a day.

Aloe vera gel

Many people claim aloe vera gel can lighten skin, although there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to support this claim.

Advocates of aloe vera point to a compound called aloesin. According to a 2002 study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, aloesin reduces hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure. As the study is older, more research is needed to prove its effects.

To try this remedy:

  1. Apply 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel to your knees.
  2. Gently apply to your skin with clean hands.
  3. Repeat 2 to 3 times per week.


Turmeric is conventionally used to lighten skin. Curcumin, its primary compound, is thought to be responsible for this effect.

In a 2012 study in Phytotherapy Research, researchers found that curcumin inhibits tyrosinase activity. This limits melanin synthesis, which may help decrease hyperpigmentation.

To use turmeric:

  1. Combine ½ teaspoon turmeric and 1 tablespoon yogurt or honey.
  2. Apply the paste to your knees. Wait 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse off and moisturize. Repeat 2 to 3 times a week.

Like dark knees, dark spots can take the form of other conditions, such as age spots or liver spots.

However, dark knees have many possible causes. Age spots and liver spots can be caused by chronic sun damage and usually occur on sun exposed areas such as the:

  • face
  • shoulders
  • arms
  • hands

Since the natural remedies above aren’t entirely supported by research, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work for other types of hyperpigmentation, like age spots or liver spots.

It’s important to use skin lightening remedies and products with caution. There isn’t a lot of research on these treatments, and some may be unsafe.

Specifically, it’s best to avoid products with these ingredients:

Some ingredients, like hydroquinone and topical steroids, are found in prescription treatments. It’s not safe to use these unless prescribed by your doctor.

Over-the-counter products with these ingredients aren’t regulated and may cause skin damage.

It’s possible to reduce your chances of developing dark knees. Here are the best preventive methods:

  • Regularly apply sunscreen. Since hyperpigmentation is often caused by sun damage, sunscreen is essential. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen on your entire body, including your knees.
  • Moisturize daily. Moisturize your knees with a hydrating cream. This can promote healthy skin.

Having dark knees isn’t harmful. But if you’d like to lighten them, you can try home remedies like aloe vera or green tea. Just know that there’s not enough evidence to suggest these will be helpful.

Moreover, some home remedies — particularly those containing mercury or hydrogen peroxide — can be harmful.

If you’re concerned about darker skin on your knees, it’s best to talk to a dermatologist. They can recommend treatments that’re backed by research.