What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyper pigmentation is a condition affecting the skin. Skin constitutes to be the largest part of the body as well as weight. It covers all of our organs, veins and tissues giving them form and protection. It is also one of the first indicators of any imbalance in the body.
In hyper pigmentation, the skin develops small or large clusters of dark spots, which can be red, brown, purplish or even pink depending on your skin tone. These are basically an after-effect of acne, excessive sun exposure, bruises, pimples or hormonal imbalance. Though these spots are harmless they definitely are indicators to some problem in the body and they also give the skin an uneven pallor. This problem is very common amongst humans and in advanced age it only increases.
Melanocytes are cells in the body that produce melanin. Melanin is responsible for your skin tone and color. The more the production of melanin in the body, darker is your complexion. Melanocytes can get damaged due to various reasons and this, results in production of excessive melanin in concentrated spots on the skin, leaving dark spots. These patches can break out on any part of the skin on the body. Being out in the sun or acne aggravates the production of melanin, making the spots prominently darker and visible.
Pigmentation occurs either in the epidermis layer of the skin or deeper dermis of the skin and in some cases on both layers. Pigmentation marks on upper layer of the skin as a result of freckles or acne, normally fade away on their own with time, but marks originating from deeper layer take months on end to fade and most of the times require external hyperpigmentation treatments, to remove the marks and dark spots.
Causes of hyperpigmentation
- Excessive unprotected sun exposure.
- Smoking and excessive intake of tobacco and nicotine.
- Hormonal imbalances due to pregnancy, menopause or prolonged in take of birth control pills.
- Damaged skin due to psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis.
- Hormonal imbalance in the body due to certain illnesses related to the gastro intestinal disorders, vitamin deficiency or imbalanced metabolism.
- Break out of acne and pimples.
- Skin break out due to waxing, shaving, in grown hair, tattoos etc.
- Sometimes these skin disorders are also hereditary.
- Dietrich in fried foods, refined grains and sugar.
- Thinning of collagen and elastin of the dermis due to old age.
Natural remedies are preferable to using over the counter creams and drugs, which can have steroidal content.
Some natural remedies, which we can follow to reduce hyperpigmentation, are as follows:
Oils not only nourish the skin, they also help in improving the elasticity of the skin and certain oils can be used to get rid of uneven patches on the skin formed due to hyper pigmentation.
The omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants present in olive oil can be helpful in improving the tone, texture and quality of skin.
- Warm some olive oil and massage in on the affected parts of the skin gently for 5 minutes.
- Dip a soft cotton cloth in warm water. Strain the water and spread the cloth on the oily skin.
- Let it rest for 3-4 minutes and then wipe off the excess oil with this cloth.
- Repeat daily until desired results are seen.
Since ages castor oil has been the go to oil when it has come to treating problems relating to hair and skin. To remove patchy marks from the skin castor oil used in combination with vitamin E oil works wonders.
- Mix vitamin E oil with a few drops of castor oil.
- Apply this mix on the patchy skin.
- Leave it over night.
- Wash off face with lukewarm water in the morning.
- Repeat thrice a week until desired results are achieved.
As with almonds, its oil is also rich in vitamins and good fatty acids. Almond oil not only nourishes your skin to make it soft and supple, it also helps in cleaning out the clogged pores thus reducing acne but also helps in exfoliating and removing dead skin.
- Massage almond oil into the skin before sleeping at night.
- Let it work its charm on your skin over night.
- Wash off with warm water in the morning.
- Repeat daily for 3 weeks to start seeing beautiful evened out skin.
Vegetables that have a good content of citric acid and water can work well in improving skin problems.
Potatoes are full of vitamins A, B, C, and minerals like iron and phosphorous. They make for a great quick option always available in your pantry.
- Cut the potato into two. Sprinkle some water onto the exposed inner side and gently rub it on the affected skin.
- Alternately you can grate potatoes and squeeze out their juice for instant quick fix application.
- Let the juice get absorbed in the skin for 30 minutes.
- Wash off with warm water.
- Repeat daily until blemishes and marks disappear.
Onions are a rich source of vitamins and anti oxidants. They are also helpful in treating patchy skin.
- Slice an onion into two and rub it on the affected part.
- Let the juice get absorbed in the skin and wash off with warm water.
- Alternately onion can be grated and the juice can be strained out.
- Apply this juice on the face and wash off once dry.
- This can be done twice a day till desired results are visible.
Fruits are a rich source of antioxidants which when combined with their inherent vitamins and minerals become a powerhouse of goodness not only to consume but also in treating skin abnormalities. Let’s have a look at how different fruits can help us in reducing and getting rid of pigmentation.
Loaded with vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties strawberries have astringent properties that help in leaving the skin looking younger and blemish free. It can be used in the following ways to reduce spots and marks.
- Cut slices of strawberry and rub on affected skin and leave for 5 minutes. Wash off with warm water.
- Mix 2tbsp of strawberry pulp with 1tbsp of lemon juice and apply the pack on affected area. Leave for 15 minutes and wash off with warm water.
- Mix together 1/4th cup of mashed banana, 1/4th cup of strawberry pulp, 1/4th cup of yogurt and 1tsp of honey. Apply on affected skin and wash off after 15 minutes with warm water.
- Depending on availability of ingredients, you can choose any pack to apply. Apply the pack daily till you get the desired results.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene amongst other nutrients, which is very helpful in protecting the skin against ultraviolet rays’ damage. Lycopene acts as a natural sunscreen, whether consumed through food or used for topical application. To help curb pigmentation tomatoes can be combined with other ingredients make a pack.
- Tomato juice can be applied on the affected skin to reduce burning or itchiness in case of damage due to sun exposure.
- Mix pureed tomato with 2 tsps. Of oatmeal powder and 1 tsp. of yogurt and apply the mask on the blemished skin. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then rinse off with warm water.
- Follow any of the above remedy daily until blemishes disappear.
Constituting of 92% of water, cucumber has cooling properties that soothe the skin and help in evening out the skin tone.
- Blend or grate cucumber and to get cucumber pureed pulp.
- Add in a few drops of lemon juice.
- Apply on the skin and let it rest for half an hour.
- Wash off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat daily for a month to see improving skin tone and texture.
Lemons belong to the citric family and are full of vitamin C as well as have astringent and bleaching properties. Adding a few drops of lemon to any face or skin pack helps in lightening the skin tone and effectively getting rid of dark spots.
Not only the orange pulp but even the orange peel is full of vitamin C, antioxidants and citric acid, which has natural bleaching agents. Instead of throwing away the orange peel like we all do, it can be dried and powdered for future use especially for making packs and masks for skin.
- Mix 1 tsp. of lemon juice, milk, honey and dried orange peel powder.
- Leave the paste on the affected area for 20 minutes and the wash off with lukewarm water.
- Apply at least thrice a week until desired results are achieved.
Considered amongst one of the super foods on earth, avocado with its creamy, velvety texture ensures a smooth and soft skin when consumed regularly or even if applied topically. For pigmentation, the following pack can be made to remove the marks.
- Puree half an avocado and make a paste by adding 2 tsps. Of honey and 1 tsp. of milk.
- Apply on the skin and let it dry naturally.
- Rinse off with lukewarm water.
- Apply daily till blemishes and marks disappear.
Dairy- eggs, yogurt
Yogurt has lactic acid which works towards slowing down melanocytes that are responsible for excessive production of melanin, thus not only exfoliating the skin but also reducing pigmentation and its marks over time.
- Apply home made yogurt on the affected skin and leave on 20-30 minutes.
- Rinse off with warm water.
- This can be applied twice a week.
Egg white has skin tightening properties. Egg yolk has biotin content which is helpful in tightening cellular structure of the skin. Both the yolk and white can be mixed with other ingredients to make a skin mask for a glowing blemish free skin.
- Mix together one egg white, 2 tbsps. Of brown sugar and a tsp. of lemon juice.
- Massage on skin, concentrating of pigmented areas.
- Let it sit for 25-20 minutes.
- Wash it off with warm water and do not forget to moisturize the skin after the wash.
- Repeat twice a weak for optimal results.
Plants, roots and barks- Aloe Vera, Turmeric, Sandalwood
Aloe vera has the same pH balance as the skin and so its application is very helpful in restoring the pH balance of the skin thus making it glow.
- Mix aloe vera gel and honey.
- Apply the mix and leave on for 20-25 minutes.
- Rinse off with warm water.
- Apply it daily for at least two weeks to see optimum results.
Turmeric has anti microbial, anti fungal, anti-inflammatory and bleaching properties. It is beneficial not only when consumed through food but is also very helpful in topical application for treating skin pigmentation.
- Make a paste mixing 1 tsp. turmeric powder and 1 tsp. lemon juice.
- Apply the paste on scarred skin.
- Let it dry out for 20 minutes on the skin.
- Clean it off with lukewarm water.
Caution: Turmeric can darken your overall skin if skin is exposed to sun within an hour of turmeric application.
Sandalwood is another ingredient that has been used since ages for beautiful skin. It has astringent and anti septic properties, which help in tightening the pores, cleansing the skin, controlling oil secretion and treating acne and pimples.
- Mix sandalwood powder with rosewater and apply this paste on the skin.
- Leave for 30 minutes
- Wash off with water
- Repeat daily until desired results are achieved.
Another effective mask can be made in the following manner.
- Mix together 2 tbsp of sandalwood and turmeric powder with 3 tbsps. Of milk.
- Apply on the skin.
- Let it stay till it dries off completely naturally.
- Wash off with warm water.
- Repeat daily until skin improves.
Remedies for reducing pigmentation are plenty, but if we take a little extra in our daily routines and tweak our lifestyles a little bit, we can avoid getting hyperpigmentation altogether.
A few lifestyle changes that we can incorporate to make sure we don’t end up with scarred skin are as follows:
Direct Sun Exposure:
Direct sunlight, especially during the peak hours from 10a.m. -3p.m. is fatally harmful for the skin. Sun damage starts showing its effect even as early as on kids in their teens. The UVA and UVB index is at its highest during this period, which penetrates the skin and imbalances the melanocytes. The body starts producing more melanin to counter the ill effects of ultra violet rays. Direct sun exposure of 20 minutes maximum in the morning is recommended by doctors to produce Vitamin D in the body.
If stepping out in the sun some corrective steps that can be followed are:
- Apply sunscreen with minimum SPF50, at least 20 minutes before going out.
- If you are suffering from hyperpigmentation make sure you wear sunscreen all year round.
- Wear a summer hat, so that your head and face are protected from direct heat.
A healthy and balanced diet goes a long way in correcting hormonal imbalances in the body, thus auto correcting any skin disorders arising due to hormonal imbalance.
- Include nuts, flax seeds and other such foods rich in fatty acids in your diet.
- Diet rich in green leafy vegetables like spinach, coriander, etc. helps in maintaining vitamins and phytonutrients in the body that reduce the damage from cancer causing free radicals.
- Daily intake of at least three kinds of fruits helps in keeping the skin hydrated.
- Drinking plenty of water not only keeps the body hydrated, it also flushes out all the toxins in the body.
- Always make sure you eat fruits on an empty stomach. Eating fruits after meals stops them from passing through the stomach and mixed with the food they become acidic and start rotting in the stomach, giving rise to a host of problems.
- Limit intake of refined grains, sugar and fried foods.
- Avoid use of cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine.
Personal hygiene as well as surroundings if kept clean goes a long way in ensuring well-being.
• Wash your hands before touching your face.
• Take warm and not hot showers.
• Follow skin routine of cleansing and moisturizing daily.
• Exfoliate your skin at least twice a week.
To sum it all up, it can be said that hyper pigmentation can happen due to a lot of factors, some due to own negligence, some out of our control. There are plenty of natural ways to deal with it provided you have the patience to go through with them and apply them as indicated.