Do you have dark spots and patches on the skin? If you do, then these dark spots are actually skin pigmentation.
Pigment is color and our skin has a similar pigment, melanin. The skin cells that produce melanin can become unhealthy which affects melanin production.
Too much melanin makes skin darker and too little makes it lighter. It usually occurs in patches rather than covering the overall body.
This article discusses skin pigmentation, its causes, treatment and remedies. Keep reading to know more.
What is Skin Pigmentation?
One of the main forms of skin discoloration is Hyperpigmentation.
If the skin’s melanin production is low there can be conditions like Vitiligo where skin patches appear darker.
However, in hyperpigmentation, skin patches are usually darker than the area around them. Though they may not only occur in patches, they can be in larger parts too.
This is because there is more melanin production in certain areas. Hence, they affect certain parts of the body only.
Hyperpigmentation is of more than one type. Melasma, age spots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation are all due to different reasons.
Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that happens to many women after pregnancy.
There are large areas of skin darker than surroundings mostly around the stomach and face.
Women undergo hormonal changes during pregnancy hence, this may cause melasma.
Though it can also happen due to the use of contraceptives and to people with a darker tone.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is usually found on the face and neck after a condition such as acne or eczema.
These dark scars or patches become visible after the inflammatory skin condition affects you.
Hence, this type of hyperpigmentation affects those who recently had an inflammatory condition.
Age spots or sun spots are little dark spots on the face and hands and other areas that get sun exposure.
These spots can also be brown or black in color and are more likely to appear on the skin of the elderly after prolonged exposure to the sun.
Hence, pigmentation can appear in these different forms either because of an external factor like sun exposure or because of internal ones like medical conditions.
Skin Pigmentation Causes
Hyperpigmentation has been linked with a rise in hormones that can lead to more melanin synthesis.
This is also why women get Melasma due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills.
Though it is also possible to get this condition due to medical drugs.
Some antimalarial medicines or anti-depressants can increase greyish pigmentation. Topical Cream chemicals can also cause hyperpigmentation.
Certain medical problems can lead to hyperpigmentation. One such medical condition is Addison’s disease.
This disease occurs because the adrenal glands do not produce the right amount of hormones.
This condition is more visible in areas with sun exposure such as the face, hands and legs. Also on folds of skin, knees and elbows.
In this condition, you may also undergo other symptoms such as weight loss, stomach and fatigue.
Additionally, sun exposure can cause sunspots/ age spots over time. Your body increases the production of melanin when it is exposed to sun the sun for a long period of time.
Moreover, there can be dark patches after skin inflammation. Acne, eczema, skin injury or diseases like lupus, can make you prone to pigmentation.
This can affect more people who have a darker tone and they are likely to develop hyperpigmentation after inflammation.
Hence, these are the reasons for pigmentation on face, neck and other body parts. Hyperpigmentation can happen anywhere but is most likely to occur in areas with sun exposure.
Skin Pigmentation Treatment
You can get a medically reviewed diagnosis to first understand your reason for skin pigmentation and then proceed with the treatment.
They will do so by taking a sample of your pigmented area.
Mostly, they can identify the cause by giving your skin a look though they may sometimes have to use a special Wood’s light to determine the cause.
After that, they will proceed to your treatment plan.
One of the most popular ways to treat hyperpigmentation is through topical creams.
While some may let hyperpigmentation be, you can still get use these treatments to treat it.
These may contain active ingredients that work to lighten the skin and can lead to skin brightening.
You can look for ingredients such as kojic acid, vitamin C, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, retinoids and corticosteroids in your topical treatments.
Though you should try not to use these for a long time as hydroquinone can actually darken if continued for long. Hence, use them with a doctor’s prescription.
Cosmetic Procedures such as Microdermabrasion, PRP, Laser therapy, chemical peels and intense pulled light can drastically reduce your hyperpigmentation.
Microdermabrasion is a procedure that helps exfoliate and remove any dead skin cells.
However, it also helps to remodel your skin as it regenerates new cells and increases the production of elastin and collagen in your skin.
The skin repairs due to wound healing and this creates smoother, wrinkle-free, bright skin.
Hence, it treats uneven pigmentation and can also combine laser therapy and Vitamin C serum for the best results.
Chemical Peels help to exfoliate in a different manner and remove the damaged skin cells from your face and neck.
As hyperpigmentation increases because of the damaged cells that produce a lot of melanin, then removing them through a chemical peel can solve your pigmentation issues.
It involves the natural healing process as well as an infusion with chemicals that regenerate the skin and remove any dead cells.
The chemical peels are of three types, light medium and deep.
Light peels only reach the epidermis and can help you with wrinkles and acne.
While medium peels use stronger glycolic acid and reach the outer as well as the middle layer.
Deep peels are the most effective to remove damaged cells and they use acid trichloroacetic.
Hence chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that can show great results for hyperpigmentation.
Home Remedies for Skin Pigmentation
While you do have topical creams, chemicals and cosmetic procedures, you may want to experiment with home remedies first.
Though as goes with every new product, you should first try a patch test on a small area of skin.
Let’s have a look at these natural remedies.
Aloe Vera is a plant that can give many benefits. One of these is to control pigmentation.
It has aloin which is known as a depigmenting compound. Moreover, it has aloesin which inhibits the production of melanin.
Hence, altogether it helps to lighten the skin without any chemicals and toxins.
Apply pure form of aloe vera from aloe vera plant daily on the affected area at night. Wash the area with warm water the next morning. Repeat this process till you see visible changes.
Not for drinking but for applying!
The green tea extract may have a depigmenting effect. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are useful for the skin and body. The extract can be applied directly or you can also experiment with green tea bags.
Putting green tea bags in hot water and let the content steep through it for five minutes.
Afterward, remove the tea bag and let it cool before applying on any dark patches. You can apply it two times a day to see optimal results.
This is also mostly used in foods but apple cider vinegar has acetic acid which can help decrease hyperpigmentation by lightening.
The application is also super easy. You should mix apple cider vinegar equally with water and apply it to your pigmentation.
Leave it in place for about two to three minutes and then rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat the procedure twice a day.
It may shock you but milk and other dairy products like buttermilk have shown lightening properties.
This is because it contains lactic acid which may be well able to fight hyperpigmentation.
You can see results with a simple application procedure.
Soak a cotton ball in milk and gently apply or run it in the dark area. Repeat this procedure twice a day till you see results.
Licorice extracts are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Its ingredients can help deal with pigmentation by melasma and sun exposure.
Alongside it has antioxidant and skin whitening effect due to the glabridin.
You can search for glabridin in pigmentation creams as that could help lighten your dark spots.
It is much easier to prevent hyperpigmentation than it is to cure it.
Though you cannot prevent hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal change and injury, you still protect yourself from sun exposure.
You should always wear sunscreen when you are outside and even indoors. This sunscreen should be higher than SPF 30 with UVA and UVB protection.
Another way to control hyperpigmentation is to avoid picking at injuries. If you have acne scars and any scabs then picking might result in pigmentation. Hence, avoid that.
These preventative measures apply to hyperpigmentation. Lighter pigmentation disorders and medical conditions like vitiligo and albinism are treated by specialists and doctors.
Skin Pigmentation can cause your skin tone to look uneven. It does not look good when seen in person and your makeup may not apply well either on common skin.
This can drastically reduce your confidence in your skin. Hence, you should aim to treat it with the right remedies and treatments suited for your skin type.
Hyperpigmentation is treatable and these cosmetic procedures and remedies can return your skin color.
If you found this article useful, let us know in the comments and read our editorial as well.