Darkish knuckles: causes, prevention and remedy

Are you also bothered by the dark spots on your knuckles? Have you tried different remedies but couldn’t get rid of those spots from your skin? Before looking for available alternatives to fix this condition, it is important to know more about it.

Dark spots over the knuckles are medically referred to as dark knuckles. Various skin conditions can affect people, including darkened knuckles.

Darker skin tones are more likely to be affected by dark knuckles. While dark knuckles are not harmful to your health per se, they do indicate underlying health issues affecting you. Therefore, as soon as you observe such dark spots near your knuckles, you need to see an expert for treatment. Read on to learn more about dark knuckles, their causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

Table of Contents

Causes of dark knuckles

hand with dark knuckles against a dark grungy wall
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1. Acanthosis nigricans (AN)

It is a skin condition that usually causes darkening of the skin on certain parts of the body, including the ankles. Acanthosis nigricans can cause skin tightening in hyperpigmentation, resulting in a thick and velvety skin texture. At worst, the hyperpigmented part could smell different or feel itchy.

Acanthosis nigricans is not an infection or an allergy, but a skin condition that can manifest itself due to various reasons such as obesity or mutation through genes. Generally, there is no specific cause of AN, and anyone can be affected by this skin condition, but according to a 2010 study, a person is at higher risk of getting AN if they

  • Are obese
  • Have AN genetic
  • are insulin resistant
  • Belong to the Hispanic, Native American or African American population

Acanthosis nigricans is not a harmful skin condition, but it can be passed from one generation to another. Parts of the body where Acanthosis nigricans is found except knuckles, navel, elbows, neck, female genitalia, knees, below the chest and armpits.

According to the researchers, acanthosis nigricans can be a warning sign for other lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, diabetes or hormonal imbalance. It can also be a side effect of using oral contraceptives.

2. Diabetes

Man measures his blood sugar level
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Diabetes can be a major reason for darkened knuckles and hyperpigmentation in other parts of the body. According to the researchers, there is a strong relationship between diabetes and dark knuckles. Dark knuckles are just one warning sign of diabetes, suggesting lifestyle changes before the condition worsens.

According to the studies, a prediabetic patient has no visible symptoms, so dark knuckles are considered an important indicator. If you see that your knuckles and other body parts are darker than usual and notice some changes in skin texture, you should consider seeing a doctor for a routine checkup.

Doctors will determine whether or not the person is prediabetic. Suppose the report states that the person’s blood sugar level is higher than usual. In this case, that person is a prediabetic patient and needs to make lifestyle changes to reverse the condition before it becomes serious.

3. Hormonal imbalance

Dark knuckles and hyperpigmentation in other parts of the body can also be a symptom of hormonal imbalance. Lifestyle disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and the thyroid can cause hyperpigmentation in women. With these diseases, more hormones than usual are released from the woman’s body, which upsets the hormonal balance in the body.

One of the well-known symptoms of PCOS is darkened knuckles and armpits. Diagnosis is essential to understanding the situation as dark knuckles are not the only symptom of hormonal imbalance. If a woman is diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance after the check-up, she needs to address it with a healthy lifestyle and some changes in her daily routine.

4. Cancer

cancer cells
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If someone has recently noticed the appearance of dark knuckles and hyperpigmentation, they may have a specific type of cancer. You don’t need to worry right away as this is just the worst case scenario. You should have a doctor examine you to determine the exact reason for dark knuckles.

5. Dermatomyositis

This is a very rare condition and can be responsible for darkened knuckles. Dermatomyositis causes skin rashes and muscle weakness. These rashes can cause darkened knuckles and hyperpigmentation on other parts of the body.

According to studies, dermatomyositis often occurs in children between the ages of 5 and 15 or adults over 50 years of age. Studies have not shown a cure for dermatomyositis, but symptoms can be managed with expert guidance.

When should you see a doctor?

If someone’s knuckles start to darken in a few weeks and give off a foul odor, they need to see a doctor. If you notice other symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, etc., you should inform your doctor to determine the tests that are appropriate for you. One should not ignore dark knuckles if they appear strange or have suddenly appeared on the skin as it could be a warning sign of an underlying health problem.

Treatments for dark knuckles

There are many options for treating dark knuckles, and one of the most popular is to use natural remedies. There is no need to visit a medical facility to treat dark knuckles or hyperpigmentation on other parts of the body. However, medications are available to treat if one has or is prone to a serious health condition.

For dark knuckle treatments with natural remedies, one can use certain things that are readily available. You can also buy some over-the-counter products to lighten the pigmented areas. There are also several medications used to treat hyperpigmentation. If you don’t want to treat your dark knuckles with natural remedies, you can speak to a dermatologist and begin treatment.

Here are some of the most popular home remedies and over-the-counter products to consider for darkened knuckles. These can also be considered to prevent dark knuckles.

1. The easiest way to lighten pigmentation on ankles and other body parts is to apply turmeric. Turmeric is rich in curcumin, which can stop the excessive production of melanin.
According to a 2012 study, the curcumin found in turmeric disrupts the tyrosinase enzyme, which is the main enzyme responsible for the production of melanin. One should apply a mixture of a small amount of turmeric with water or raw milk on the pigmented area. You should leave the paste on until it dries and then wash it off with regular water.

Turmeric roots and powder in wooden spoon
© iStock

2. Green tea can also be applied to dark knuckles to reduce pigmentation and lighten skin tone in that area. Green tea is high in tyrosinase enzymes, which ultimately reduce melanin production, resulting in less pigmentation. One can mix rose water and milk with green tea and apply it regularly to the affected area for the best results.

Green Tea Bag
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3. Yogurt can also be useful for reducing pigmentation on the knuckles. According to various research articles, yogurt contains high amounts of lactic acid, which helps fade hyperpigmentation. One can apply the yogurt directly to the darkened knuckles and wash it off with warm water after 20 minutes for the best results.

4. Products rich in vitamin C can also help reduce pigmentation. Vitamin C has a powerful antioxidant that is very helpful in controlling melanin production in the body.

Vitamin C Complex
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5. Some over-the-counter products are also helpful in removing hyperpigmentation from the skin. These ingredients are niacinamide, kojic acid, azelaic acid, retinoids, ellagic acid, hydroquinone, and glycolic acid.

Keep in mind that these treatments take a certain amount of time to show results. Nothing magically happens, so you should be patient and follow the treatment diligently to get the best result.

bottom line

Dark ankles and hyperpigmentation on other parts of the body are very common problems and can be considered a symptom of other major diseases. For the best results, one can use these home remedies and over-the-counter products continuously. But before that, they should get a diagnosis from a doctor to determine what kind of treatment is needed.

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