Pigmentation – Everything You Need to Know About Hyper-Pigmentation
Written by Dr. Aman Dua
The human body is complicated and there are so many things that can go wrong with it, in an instant – the smallest spot on your body, could be the indication of something wrong in the body. Hyperpigmentation is one such indication – what might seem like simple spots on the body, are actually an indication of your body showing signs of being entrapped by a condition.
What is hyperpigmentation?
In the easiest of terms, when there is an overproduction of melanin in certain parts of the body, spots will start to emerge. This condition is referred to as hyperpigmentation – the spots can be of different sizes and shapes, but in most cases, they are slightly flat and the coloring tends to be between light brown and black.
What are the types of hyperpigmentation?
Not all pigmentation and blemishes can be categorized as the same because each type of pigmentation could have been caused by a different reason. Treating these depends on correctly identifying the root cause, which could include:
- If you are exposing your skin to too much sun, then there is the chance of your skin developing spots. These spots will appear on those parts of the skin, which are constantly exposed to sunlight, such as the face, hands, and legs.
- Chloasma is commonly known as the mask of pregnancy because it affects almost 90% of pregnant women. The reason is often the hormonal changes that take place in the body during pregnancy or because of birth control pills. The spots tend to be of a larger size and appear mostly on the face or arms.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens when the skin is injured or when there is healing post a trauma. This type of pigmentation is commonly seen in people who have adult acne or have undergone procedures such as dermabrasion or chemical peels.
- Other types of pigmentation could be because of scars, birthmarks and certain types of skin cancers, but many times, these are not categorized as hyperpigmentation.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
There are several things that can cause hyperpigmentation, but the basic causes of hyperpigmentation include overproduction of melanin and excessive exposure to sunlight.
Hyperpigmentation is caused when there is too much melanin in the body – while melanin gives our skin, eyes, and hair its natural color, too much of it can cause patches on the skin. This overproduction can happen because of:
- Overexposure to sunlight
Some of the other reasons that could cause hyperpigmentation include:
- Adrenal insufficiency, such as Addison’s disease – hormones that stimulate the synthesis of melanin is elevated
- Excessive production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
- When there is insulin resistance in the body
- Autosomal dominant disorders such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, which leads to the formation of pigmentation on the lips and surrounding area
- Mercury poisoning and exposure to chemicals such as cisplatin, salicylic acid, and bleomycin
- Conditions such as Porphyria, Coeliac disease, Nelson’s syndrome, Grave’s disease, Cronkite-Canada syndrome, Haemochromatosis, Smoker’s melanosis, Aromatase deficiency and tinea cruris
How can you treat hyperpigmentation?
Treatment of hyperpigmentation depends on what has led to the occurrence of the spots, however, there are some generalized treatments:
- There are several over the counter ointments and salves that you can buy
- There are prescription only medicines such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, and azelaic acid
- A photo-facial, using intense pulsed light, can help reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation
- With a chemical peel, the marks caused by hyperpigmentation can be lightened
- Hyperpigmentation can also be reduced by a laser peel
Home remedies for hyperpigmentation:
Lemon – The citric acid in the lemon juice helps to bleach the skin, leading to the lightening of the hyperpigmentation spots. Squeeze out the juice from one lemon and using a cotton ball, apply it all over the spots. After about 15 minutes, you need to wash it off with warm water. RAgeepeat this routine twice a day for a few months. You can also create a face mask using equal parts of lemon juice and raw honey. Once you have applied it to the skin, you need to cover the area with a warm towel and then wash it off after 15 minutes. This procedure needs to be repeated once a week, for a few months.
Apple cider vinegar – This is actually a miracle liquid, which can really help clear up dark patches that might have appeared due to hyperpigmentation. Not only does apple cider vinegar have astringent properties, it can also help lighten skin. Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water and use this solution to gently rinse the patches. Wash it off with warm water after a few minutes and repeat the remedy twice a day for a few months. You can also drink apple cider vinegar – mix two teaspoons of the vinegar in half a glass of warm water, along with one small spoonful of honey. Drink this mix twice a day for a couple of weeks.
Aloe vera – The mucilaginous polysaccharides present in the gel of aloe vera, make it an excellent solution for hyperpigmentation. Not only does it remove dead skin cells, but also helps regenerate the skin from within. Apply some fresh aloe gel, before going to bed and rinse it off in the morning. Create a mask using two tablespoons of aloe gel with half a spoon of raw honey. Apply it on the pigmented skin and wash it off once dry.
Raw potato – Catecholase, an enzyme that is present in potatoes, can help reduce spots and blemishes and this remedy works well for hyperpigmentation too. Wash and peel a potato and cut it into thick slices. Pour a few drops of water on the slice and rub the slice onto your skin for about 10 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water and repeat the process thrice a day. Alternately, you could grate a potato and squeeze the juice out of it. Mix this juice with equal parts of lemon juice and apply to the pigmented areas. Wash it off after about half an hour and repeat the process twice a month.
Turmeric – Not only will turmeric disinfect your skin, it will also help get rid of the blemishes caused by hyperpigmentation. Mix equal parts of turmeric and lemon juice and apply to the affected areas, washing it off with cold water, after about 20 minutes. Make sure that you do not step out into the sunlight at least an hour after this procedure. You could also create a thick paste using turmeric and milk and gently massage the affected areas. Once the paste dries up, you can wash it off with warm water.
Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant and helps combat the effects of ultraviolet rays, making it the choice treatment for hyperpigmentation. Remove the content of about 3 capsules and mix in a few drops of castor oil. Apply this mix to the affected area and leave overnight, washing it off the next morning. Another effective method is a face mask – combine Fuller’s earth, papaya paste and the contents of two vitamin E capsules. Apply to the affected areas and wash off with lukewarm water, once dry.
Guest Author Bio: Dr. Aman Dua, Co-Founder & Managing Director at AK Clinics has over 14 years of clinical and teaching experience in the fields of Dermatology and Hair Transplant. You can find out more about Dr. Dua and her work on her official page at AK Clinics or on Linkedin.