Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Akruti Khandkar (Journalist) on 15th Mar 2021

Are you worried about dark patches on lips and around the mouth?

Hyperpigmentation Around Lips and Mouth

Hyperpigmentation is a broad term that alludes to a widespread issue: skin discoloration.

Hyperpigmentation occurs as dull spots but can sometimes take on serious and disturbing maladies.

Pigmentation can happen in any part of your body, but most people are concerned about hyperpigmentation around the mouth and lips.

Like your skin tone, lip tone can change from individual to individual. Sometimes the change in lip color could demonstrate that the lips need more care. However, lip discoloration is rarely serious. 

What is hyperpigmentation?  

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Hyperpigmentation is when a certain area of skin seems darker than the remaining skin.

Hyperpigmentation happens when the skin delivers more melanin (skin pigment.) It is a benign skin condition. It can impact individuals of all skin types.

A few types of hyperpigmentation, including sunspots and melasma, are bound to influence skin regions that face sun exposure, especially the face. Some hyperpigmentation signs appear after skin irritation or injury, such as burn cuts, lupus, or acne.  

How hyperpigmentation leads to skin darkening?

Freckles, post-blemishes from breakouts that turned into big sunspots from excess exposure to sunlight or discoloration brought on by dermatitis or psoriasis fall under the umbrella of hyperpigmentation.

The more profound the color, the harder it is to treat. A part of the skin that has been reliably exposed to unsafe UV beams without the proper assurance will be harder to recuperate or treat than a dull spot from a pimple you've been keeping safe from the sun. So, the degree of seriousness shifts. However, if you spot even a small area of discoloration on your skin that wasn't there previously, it's hyperpigmentation. Always consult your doctor to be sure of the condition.  

What is Melasma (Chloasma)?  

Melasma is a condition of symmetric hyperpigmentation wherein regions of the skin become darker than the remaining skin. These dark spots usually occur on the face, brow, cheeks, or upper lip and are very common in females.

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The dark marks regularly show up on two sides of the face in an almost indistinguishable pattern. The dark patches of skin can be any shade, from tan to deep brown. These dark spots are caused by UV exposure and hormonal influences. Seldom, these dim patches may show up on other sun-uncovered regions of the body.

Due to hormonal changes, the dull patches frequently grow during pregnancy or if a lady takes hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or oral contraceptives. Melasma during pregnancy is generally expected.

Certain products make you sensitive to the sun (photosensitizing) and can lead up to melasma. Utilizing topical agents such as azelaic acid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, Vitamin C, and arbutin generally protects the skin from harmful sun rays. Security from the sun is a vital piece of the treatment of melasma. For instance, ladies who are pregnant or who take hormone medicine and dodge the sun are less inclined to create melasma than those who spend a lot of time out in the sun.

Since the risk of melasma increases with sun exposure, the component most likely includes the overproduction of melanin by hyper melanocytes. Apart from sun exposure, other factors include photosensitizing drugs and autoimmune thyroid disorders. 

Diagnosis of Melasma   

A specialist will analyze melasma just by taking a look at your skin. Your clinical history will assist with deciding any elements that may have caused the issue.

Your dermatologist may utilize a special lamp that radiates bright light. This permits the specialist to see examples and profundity of skin pigmentation all the more clearly.  

Do you know?

Pigmentary Disorders are the third most common disorder in dermatology and cause significant psychosocial impairment.  

What causes dark patches on lips and around the mouth?  

Sun exposure is a major culprit for dark lips. There is a natural variation between individuals in their lip tone. Less melanin makes a lighter skin tone, while more melanin implies a darker skin tone.  

Reasons for hyperpigmented lip include:  

  • Metabolic causes: vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 
  • A high amount of sun exposure (Ephelides and lentigines) 
  • phytophotodermatitis 
  • Excess melanin production  
  • pregnancy 
  • tobacco smoking  
  • medical condition like malignancy, especially related to melanoma  

1. Sun exposure  

UV exposure is the most important factor that influences the pigment in the skin. So when lips and the area around the mouth are exposed to the sun, it triggers the body to make melanin to soak up bright beams. UVA rays are considered the key culprits of the photoaging process. It also penetrates deep into the skin and harms the area of the body exposed to the sun. It additionally tans the skin.

To treat skin hyperpigmentation disorders such as photoprotection on areas around your lips, it is imperative to wear sun protection on the lips and face, just as anywhere else the body.

These inherit photoprotective cautions or products that keep your skin secured, such as broad-spectrum sunscreen or clothing use. The use of headcovers and full clothing is considered to be a successful photoprotective strategy.  

2. Vitamin deficiency  

Pigmented skin can be caused due to the deficiency of vitamins like vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. According to a study, vitamin D abnormalities directly relate to melasma.  

3. Smoking  

Nicotine and benzopyrene in tobacco smoke can support melanin creation in the skin. Exposure to tar and nicotine makes the melanocytes grow larger and produce more melanin.

It further damages the elastin and collagen, the two most important proteins responsible for skin’s structure and elasticity.

Smoking has numerous other negative effects on health. The National Cancer Institute has a website that gives data and guidance to individuals who need to stop.

4. Pregnancy

A few ladies may encounter skin changes during pregnancy. This is very common and is often due to endocrinological changes(it happens when endocrine tissue produces less of its hormones). Areas including the lips, forehead, cheeks, and nose may create patches of darker skin. The pigmented skin issues are benign and are treated post-delivery. However, the intensity of hyperpigmentation can vary upon intake of medications or environmental factors. In any case, these regions should re-visitation their standard shading following pregnancy.  

5. Certain drugs  

A few drugs can cause hyperpigmentation. These incorporate antimalarial drugs and antiretrovirals. These medications can cause the skin to darken. Several medications are in association with pigmentation, including antioxidants and metals.

The skin should be back to its normal tone once the course of medicine completes. However, the hyperpigmentation may remain for a few days. These pigmented areas can be caused due to gathering of melanin or by a trigger or inflammation of a medication. 

6. Medical issues  

Some clinical issues can cause hyperpigmentation. One of the most notable is Addison's disease. Addison's disease’s most common symptoms are fatigue, change in skin color, and gastrointestinal abnormalities.

Typically, it is an issue with the immune system that prevents the adrenal organ from making enough essential hormones. The condition can cause dull patches around the mouth and other parts of the skin, dark lips, or dark gums. Several individuals with this disease suffer from Vitiligo, where white patches occur on your skin. Patients also deal with black freckles on the forehead and areas around their mouth. 

How to protect your lips? 

The skin of the lips is more delicate than the skin on the rest of the body. The lips don't have sweat organs or the assurance of hair so that they can dry out rapidly. Due to low water remaining capacity, lips are vulnerable to environmental impacts, smoking, sun exposure, and temperature extremes. The primary step is to hydrate your lips, especially in winters. Using lip tint or lip gloss can have adverse effects on the skin. Dry skin on your lips can make them look chapped and duller than expected.

A study proves that after applying lip gloss and lip tint, there was an increase in dead skin cells on the lips, and pigmentation was found after lip tint. Routinely moisturizing and remaining hydrated can help keep the lips healthy.

The skin on the lips is susceptible. It is defenseless against the effects of smoking, the sun, and the usage of cosmetics.  

Do you know?

Your lips consist of only 3-4 outer layers, while other parts of the body contain 15 to 16 protective coatings.  

Continuously wear sun protection on the lips, and look for healing ointments with glycerin and petrolatum to shield lips from burning.

Avoid using bams or cosmetics with menthol and eucalyptus as it increases the dryness of your lips. Likewise, stopping smoking can help improve the presence of skin and health.  

How to prevent your area around the mouth from hyperpigmentation 

The ideal approach to forestall hyperpigmentation is to restrict skin exposure to the sun. if you go out in the sun, take these safety measures:  

  • Wear a cap with an edge to conceal and ensure your face.  
  • Apply sunblock (for example, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) on vulnerable sections of the skin.  
  • Use sunscreen that ensures against both UVA and UVB radiation. The sunscreen ought to have a sun insurance factor (SPF) of 30 or more.

Dr. Andrea Suarez suggests

wearing tinted mineral sunscreen as mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide that protects your skin from ultraviolet radiation. The tint puts sunscreen through the iron oxide, and this inactive ingredient can protect additionally against visible lights.  

Treatment of hyperpigmentation

As hormones balance out, the dull patches of melasma typically blur. Ladies who create melasma because of pregnancy frequently observe the patches blur a very long time after the child is conceived. Ladies who take oral contraceptives or hormone replacement treatment often observe the patches blur once they quit taking the drugs.  

A couple of alternatives may help blur or treat dim patches:  

  • Tretinoin is a type of vitamin A that helps expand the rate at which dead skin cells tumble off, and new ones show up. This makes the melasma fade more rapidly as the pigmented cells are shed.  
  • Hydroquinone is a cream that removes pigment from the skin. It obstructs the regular synthetic cycle that prompts making melanin, the substance that makes skin dull. 
  • Chemical peels are fluid solutions applied to the skin to give a mild chemical burn like a sunburn. After some time, the burned layers strip off, revealing new, fresh skin. Chemical peels change in quality. Glycolic acid is among the mildest and has a lower danger of causing scarring or skin pigmentation. Chemical peels might be utilized if melasma doesn't react to different medicines.  
  • If you exfoliate the zone around your mouth routinely with a delicate exfoliator, it can eliminate dead cells and dullen the skin's pigmentation. Settle on a chemical exfoliant as it won't scratch the skin, which may exacerbate the condition.  
  • OTC Skin-Brightening Creams can be viable in diminishing the dark region around the mouth. Search for ingredients, for example, kojic acid, glabridin, arbutin, grape seed separate, vitamin C, curcumin, azelaic acid, or niacinamide. These ingredients block the creation of tyrosinase which is required by the skin to make melanin. Apply as coordinated on the pack.  
  • Azelaic acid cream seems to work by easing back down or halting pigment creation, the substance that makes the skin darker.  
  • Intense Pulsed Light therapy uses certain frequencies of light to target and eliminates pigmented regions of skin.    

When to Call a Professional  

See your dermatologist if you build up any unexplained discoloration of the skin. Although melasma doesn't need treatment, a specialist can recognize melasma from other skin problems that may be dealt with.  

Takeaway 

Hyperpigmentation is a typical skin condition that can influence numerous individuals for many reasons.

Hyperpigmentation is a benign skin condition that individuals can dispose of utilizing evacuation strategies, for example, corrective medicines, creams, and home cures.

If your skin shows any signs close to hyperpigmentation, you should look for guidance from their dermatologist, who will inform you about the best treatment techniques accessible.