Pigmentation is a condition characterized by the coloring of the skin, including the face, lips, eyes, hair, etc. Melanin is a pigment present in the skin. It is produced by skin cells to protect them from UV radiation damage.
The overall color of a person's skin is determined by the amount of melanin present in their skin. But sometimes, the skin may produce excessive melanin in one location, resulting in skin darkening. This condition is known as hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation usually affects only the skin patches, although it can sometimes affect the entire body. It is normally harmless but can occur due to a particular medical problem. Your skin can also darken as a result of certain drugs. For the most part, it's more of an aesthetic concern.
Types of Pigmentation
The following are the common types of pigmentation:
This is the most prevalent type of skin pigmentation. While genes may play a role in whether or not you develop freckles, the small dots are usually the earliest indicators of UV effect. They form as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun and are more common in people with lighter skin complexion. During the warmer months, they become more visible and look darker.
- Solar lentigines
These types of pigmentation are also referred to as sun spots, liver spots, age spots, or brown spots. They involve pigmented areas that range from light brown to black. Solar lentigines usually occur due to UV radiation from sun exposure and can appear in any part of the body. Skin cancer and melanoma can develop from this type of pigmentation. Therefore, it's important to keep an eye on it.
Also known as chloasma, melasma is more common among women, unlike in men. Big tan or brown areas with an unclear edge occur on the face. Though the reasons are unknown, they are frequently triggered by hormonal shifts. Too much sun exposure, certain drugs, pregnancy, and stress can worsen the condition.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Acne, friction, burns, or severe clinical procedures including dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser, or IPL (intense pulsed light) are the common causes of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This pigmentation improves over time and can be treated using topical products.
General Causes of Pigmentation
Excess melanin production is a common cause of pigmentation in the face and other areas. Melanin is a pigment found in the skin that gives it its color. Melanocytes, which are the skin cells, generate melanin. The production of melanin in your body might be affected by a variety of diseases or causes.
Other possible causes of pigmentation include;
- Sun exposure
To shield the skin from extended sun exposure, the body creates more melanin. This might result in age spots or sunspots, which are dark patches or marks on the skin.
- Skin inflammation
When a person's skin gets inflamed, their skin tends to darken in some areas. Acne, lupus, eczema, or a skin injury are examples of this. Post-inflammatory pigmentation is more common in individuals who have darker skin.
When a person's hormones change, especially during pregnancy, dark skin patches might appear. Melasma pigmentation is quite common among pregnant women.
- Adverse reactions to medications
Pigmentation can occur as a side effect of certain drugs, including antimalarials medications and tricyclic antidepressants. Skin patches or spots may become gray in some circumstances. Pigmentation can also occur from the chemicals present in topical products.
- Medical disorders
Addison's illness and hemochromatosis are the two most significant causes of pigmentation. Addison's disease can interfere with the adrenal glands. As a result, pigmentation can occur in various parts of the body. Common examples of these pigmentation disorders include;
- Pigmentation on creases of the skin
- Lips pigmentation
- Knees and elbows pigmentation
- Toes pigmentation
- Hair pigmentation
Individuals who have any form of pigmentation should consult a doctor or a dermatologist. He or she will help determine the type as well as the underlying cause. To identify the reason for your pigmentation, your doctor can remove a small skin sample for testing or perform a biopsy.
Melasma and other forms of pigmentation may typically be diagnosed simply by checking on the skin. At times, the doctor can use a special light known as a Wood's light to assess the skin thoroughly.
If treatment is required, your doctor or dermatologist will work with you to develop a suitable plan.
Pigmentation Treatment Options
Despite the fact that pigmentation disorder is completely harmless, many people consider eliminating the problem. You can experiment with a variety of treatment options and natural home remedies.
To avoid pigmentation or prevent it from getting worse, you should do the following;
- Avoid excess exposure to the sun: To protect your skin and prevent pigmentation from getting even darker, you can apply sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or more.
- Do not pick at the skin: Picking at patches, acne, and scabs following an injury increases the chances of pigmentation.
To lighten and improve the dark spots of skin and eliminate pigmentation, you can try out treatments such as;
Topical treatments are commonly used to treat and manage pigmentation. They consist of the following ingredients that help lighten up your skin:
- C vitamin
- Kojic acid
- Retinoids, which include tretinoin
Dermatologists can recommend certain cosmetic procedures to help brighten up patches of skin to make pigmentation less noticeable. Pigmentation can thus be treated with a variety of cosmetic procedures, including:
- Laser treatment
- Intense pulsed light
- Chemicals peels
You should first consult a dermatologist or a skin care specialist before undertaking any of these cosmetic procedures. He or she will help determine if the treatment is suitable for you as well as explain the process and the potential adverse effects.
Home Remedies for Pigmentation
Pigmentation may react effectively to simple home remedies in most cases. The goal of home remedies is to replenish and shield the cells or to restore the pigmented cells with newer and fresher ones.
The majority of home treatments use antioxidants and acids present in some household products to balance and preserve the skin. Some of the natural home treatments you can use to lessen the appearance of pigmentation include;
To lighten pigmentation, you can take licorice extracts. Glabridin, a licorice extract, has been shown to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin-whitening properties, according to studies. Glabridin-containing creams can thus be applied to the pigmented areas to help improve the appearance.
Glabridin-containing products can be found in drug stores or even online.
- Green tea
Green tea extracts can be beneficial for people with pigmentation. Green tea has long been known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, there is little research stating that green tea extracts help with melasma and minimize sunburn effects. More research is ongoing before health experts can completely understand if green tea can genuinely ease symptoms.
- Aloe vera
Aloe vera contains an element known as aloesin which helps in lightening pigmentation. Aloesin functions by preventing melanin formation in the skin. According to one study, aloe vera capsules can help pregnant women who have melasma.
For better results, you can apply the aloe vera gel directly to your skin on a daily basis. However, no studies have directly associated aloe vera in reducing the areas of pigmentation. Therefore, scientists are still uncertain of the technique's success.
- Apple cider vinegar
Most people opt for apple cider vinegar to lighten undesirable pigmentation on their skin. In some circumstances, apple cider vinegar has acetic acid, which can function as a moderate chemical peel.
Apple cider vinegar also has polyphenols, according to research. They have antioxidant properties and can be helpful in protecting skin cells.
Nonetheless, there is limited concrete evidence that apple cider vinegar can be used to treat pigmentation. Even so, some people might benefit from it, although they must ensure that they use it appropriately.
- Milk or yogurt
Lactic acid, which is present in both yogurt and milk, is a prevalent ingredient for chemical peels for the skin. These products, even in small amounts, may also assist with moderate pigmentation.
You can apply milk or yogurt directly to the pigmented region or soak a cotton ball in the product and apply it to the site. These two home remedies are usually effective for most people.
Allow the yogurt or milk to remain for a few minutes before thoroughly rinsing the area and applying a moisturizer. Other people may find that repeating this treatment at least twice a day helps them enhance the skin patches.
Pigmentation is a prevalent skin disorder that affects a large number of people for a variety of reasons. Age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory pigmentation are among the common types of pigmentation. Pigmentation is generally a non-cancerous skin disorder that can be treated with cosmetic treatments, lotions, and other home remedies.
If you develop any other symptoms in addition to pigmentation, you should consult a doctor right away. Also, if you wish to cure pigmentation for other cosmetic reasons, inform your dermatologist before proceeding with the treatment. He or she can advise you on the most effective treatment options.