Dark spots on the skin can occur in infants, children, and adults, and they range in severity from simple dryness to moderate cracking to severe skin diseases like eczema. In most situations of dark skin spots, the darker portion of the skin has a scaly and inflamed appearance and often occurs on the elbows and knees.
Petroleum jelly is an inexpensive household product that acts as a barrier to trap moisture in the skin, and can play a major role in reducing the level of excess pigmentation. (See Reference 1) Though there is no cure for severe dry skin, a healthy amount of petroleum jelly, combined with a few other moisturizing products outlined below, can clear unsightly cracks and dryness, leaving in its place healthy, rejuvenated skin.
Instructions to Clearer, Healthier Skin Using All-Purpose Petroleum Jelly
See your doctor to ensure that you do not have a serious skin condition such as eczema. Eczema can occur in all age ranges, and often requires a specifically prescribed regiment to alleviate based on severity. Make sure your dark spots are not related to this skin condition before proceeding.
Exfoliate the surface of the skin where you are experiencing darkness and dryness to remove dead cells. (Reference 3) Often, taking a warm bath with a gentle, exfoliating body scrub or soap will do the trick. Do not use cleansing products that contain alcohol, as that could further dry out your skin. (Reference 3) When drying yourself, pat your skin dry and do not rub the dark spots.
Once dry, thoroughly hydrate and moisturize the problem areas by applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Be liberal with your usage, but be wary of applying a layer too thick that can't be fully rubbed in, because too much of the product may cause more dark spots. (Resource 1) Also note that because of its greasy, oily nature, petroleum jelly should not be used to lighten dark spots located on the face.
Wrap or cover the areas of application with clean fabric, such as a sock, to keep the moisturizer intact. (Reference 3) This type of dressing can stay on overnight or for just one hour, depending on the time of day. Petroleum jelly is an oil-based semi-solid which has a neutralizing effect when it comes into contact with hydrogenated skin cells. The carbon and hydrogen elements of petroleum jelly have self-bonding properties, which means it seals moisture in the skin to rejuvenate for a healthier, firmer look. (Reference 2)
Apply sunscreen with a decently high SPF and with UVA and UVB protection directly onto your problem areas. Intense UV rays will only further dry out and crack your skin if its not continually moisturized.
Drink a lot of water to keep your entire body hydrated.
Make a conscious effort not to lean on the parts of your body that carry the dark spots, especially if they are your elbows or knees. Avoiding undue pressure on those areas can further help your skin lighten and return to normal.
Continue the above skincare regimen even after your skin heals. If the problem was severe enough to warrant daily treatment, scaling back to follow the above steps a few times a week may be OK. But if your dark spots are continual problem areas, do not neglect them entirely after they have healed because regular wear and tear on your body may cause them to come back.
DO NOT use petroleum jelly on your face. This can cause severe skin irritation issues such as acne.
If the above treatment did not work in lightening the dark spots of your skin, consult a dermatologist for further instructions that may involve topical medications.