Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Akruti Khandkar (Journalist)  on 09th Nov 2020

Is skin pigmentation bothering you? Learn how to tackle it

Is skin pigmentation bothering you?

Do you notice any spots on your skin? Or are you a victim of an uneven skin tone? It can be evidence of skin pigmentation. Our skin tone is characterized by color, and with sun exposure, the UVA beams animate the creation of melanin.

Melanin is formed by cells in the skin and is the culprit of the skin pigmentation on your skin. Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that makes your skin darken. Age spots, additionally called liver spots, are a typical sort of hyperpigmentation.

At the point when an individual is healthy, their skin tone will seem unblemished. In the case of ailment or injury, the individual's skin may change color, getting darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation).  

Types of Hyperpigmentation  

There are a few types of hyperpigmentation, the regular ones being sunspots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  

1. Sunspots.

Commonly called solar lentigines or liver spots, sunspots are normal. They're identified with an overabundance of sun exposure over the long haul. For the most part, they show up as spots on territories presented to the sun, similar to the hands and face. 

2. Melasma.

Melasma is accepted to be brought by hormonal changes and may create during pregnancy. According to Dr. Rasya Dixit,

MD melasma is inherited, so if your family suffers from melasma, you might too. This condition is portrayed by brown patches or tan, most generally on the face. Territories of hyperpigmentation can show up on any region of the body; however, they show up most usually on the face and stomach. Avoid treatment like bleaching, as it may end up harming your skin and making pigmentation worse

3. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

It is an aftereffect of injury or irritation to the skin. A typical cause for this sort is acne.  

Types of Hypopigmentation  

Hypopigmentation in the skin is the aftereffect of a decrease in melanin creation. Examples of hypopigmentation include:  

1. Vitiligo:

Vitiligo causes smooth, white patches on the skin. In certain individuals, these patches can show up everywhere on the body.

It is an autoimmune condition in which the pigment-creators are harmed.

There is no cure for vitiligo. However, a few medicines, including corticosteroid creams, cosmetic cover-ups, ultraviolet light treatments, or calcineurin inhibitors (Protopic ointment, Elidel cream), can be used for treatment.  

2. Albinism:

Albinism is a rare inherited disorder due to the absence of an enzyme that produces melanin. It results in the complete absence of pigmentation in hair, skin, and eyes. There is no remedy for albinism. Albinos should utilize sunscreen consistently in the light as they are more prone to get skin cancer or other types of skin damage.

3. Pigmentation loss:

If you've had a skin infection, burns, blisters, or another injury to your skin, you may have lost pigmentation in the affected region. The uplifting, positive aspects of this sort of problem is that it's not permanent, but it does require some time to re-pigment. 

What are the early indications of skin pigmentation?

Nose, face-cheeks, and forehead are the common areas that suffer from skin pigmentation to keep an eye out for the signs in these regions.

Any uneven skin tone or discoloration could be the start of a pigmented skin. If you spot such indications of pigmentation, it is advised to consult your dermatologist.  

What causes skin pigmentation? 

Various things can trigger pigmentation; however, the primary source is extreme sun exposure. Pigmentation usually occurs in the body areas that are most and for a long time exposed to the sun. However, there are other aspects responsible for skin pigmentation:  

  • skin aggravation or injury
  • pregnancy hormones  
  • some medications, including chemotherapy drugs  
  • endocrine illnesses, for example, Addison's diseases 
  • insulin resistance  
  • melasma 

Reaction to medications 

Certain drugs, for example, tricyclic antidepressants and antimalarial medications, can cause hyperpigmentation. In these cases, patches of skin may turn dark.

Chemicals in skin medicines can likewise now and again cause hyperpigmentation.  

Medical conditions 

More severe cases of skin pigmentation incorporate hemochromatosis and Addison's diseases.

Addison's disease influences the adrenal organs. It can cause hyperpigmentation in specific territories of the body, including: 

  • lips  
  • folds of skin  
  • toes  
  • elbows and knees 
  • knuckles  
  • inside of the cheek

Hemochromatosis is an acquired condition that makes the body inherit a lot of iron. It can cause hyperpigmentation, causing the skin to seem tanned or darken.

According to Dr. Elyse Love 

people who usually have more pigment in their skin, for example, those with a darker skin tone, are more prone to both post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), sun-induced hyperpigmentation, and primary pigmentary disorder.

What should you do to forestall pigmentation?  

Although hyperpigmentation is harmless, a few people want to get rid of it. Sun protection is the utmost important step you can take in assisting with forestalling hyperpigmentation. It's imperative to recall that the sun's rays influence skin even on cloudy days, so give your skin the everyday insurance it needs.

There are a plethora of treatment techniques and home cures that individuals can attempt.  

  • Avoid introduction to the sun. Always pick an SPF 30 or higher, broad-spectrum and waterproof sunscreen to shield the skin and prevent hyperpigmentation from getting darker.  

Dermatologist tip:

Dr. Rasya Dixit, MD, suggests referring to your dermatologist and use gel-based sunscreen, as it can prevent pigmentation from developing on acne marks. 

  • Avoid picking at the skin. To forestall hyperpigmentation after an injury, abstain from picking at scabs, acne, and spots. Dr. Dixit also suggests not picking on the pimples, as it leaves more marks and more pigmentation than usual.

    Individuals can attempt the accompanying medicines to help dull patches of skin and eliminate hyperpigmentation. 

Ingredients that can help with skin pigmentation

Numerous individuals utilize skin medicines to treat pigmentation. Skin medicines will incorporate ingredients that help the skin, for example,  

  • corticosteroids  
  • azelaic acid  
  • kojic acid  
  • hydroquinone  
  • vitamin C  
  • retinoids, for example, tretinoin  

According to Dr. Alexis Stephens, board-certified dermatologists,

vitamin C is the best way to brighten the skin but make sure that vitamin C is very demanding and does not work well with other active ingredients.  

A cosmetic procedure that can help with skin pigmentation

Some procedures can likewise fade skin pigmentation in certain areas: 

  • microdermabrasion  
  • intense pulsed light  
  • chemical peels  
  • laser treatment 

Individuals who think of adopting one of these methods should examine the process and possible results with a dermatologist or skincare expert.  

Home remedies for skin pigmentation 

There are certain natural remedies to help with skin pigmentation, especially hyperpigmentation. However, there is no large-scale research done to prove whether these remedies are viable or not.

Suppose the individual wishes to attempt a natural remedy or any other treatment. In that case, they should always do a patch test to know/see whether the product or ingredient doesn't lead to irritation.  

A 2018 study recommends that the following natural ingredients might have the option to diminish the presence of hyperpigmentation:  

1. Aloe vera  

Aloe vera may help treat hyperpigmentation. Aloesin, an extract present in aloe vera, may help hyperpigmentation. Aloesin works by repressing the creation of melanin in the skin.

A study recommends that taking aloe vera capsules can mitigate melasma in pregnant ladies. Individuals can apply aloe vera gel from the plant directly to the skin every day. Remember, no study has legitimately linked aloe vera to decreased zones of hyperpigmentation, so researchers don't yet know the adequacy of utilizing this procedure.  

2. Licorice  

Licorice compounds may help hyperpigmentation. The research proposes that a licorice extract called glabridin can have calming, skin-brightening, and antioxidant impacts.

Individuals can utilize creams containing glabridin on zones of hyperpigmentation. Items containing glabridin are accessible at drug stores and online.  

3. Green tea  

Green tea concentrates may improve hyperpigmentation. Analysts have since quite a while ago read green tea for its likely antioxidant agent and calming properties.

A small number of researchers recommend that green tea compounds improve melasma and decrease burn from the sun. More research is required before researchers can completely assure whether green tea can improve side effects.  

4. Azelaic acid.   

Azelaic acid is a 9‐carbon dicarboxylic acid acquired from Pityrosporum ovale, which is cytotoxic and antiproliferative to melanocytes. It works as a powerless, reversible inhibitor of tyrosinase. There is another plausible mechanism that includes lessening free radicals' formation.

It has been utilized in the treatment of both PIH and melasma. In patients with melasma, 20% azelaic acid was discovered to be effective compared to 4% and 2% hydroquinone, but without side effects. Overall, azelaic acid is all around endured with the most usual side‐effects, including mild erythema, pruritus, burning, and scaling.    

5. Mulberry 

Mulberry is an extract of dried mulberry leaves, Morus alba. According to in-vitro exposition, Mulberroside F, mulberry's active compound, represses tyrosinase action, melanin formation in melan-cells, melanin transfer, and might fill in as a responsive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger. There has been one randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining mulberry use in pigmentary issues. There was a critical improvement in the MASI score, normal skin colorimetric estimations, and The Melasma Quality of Life Scale (MelasQOL) scores in the treatment group.  

 6. Kojic Acid.  

Kojic acid is an outcome of Aspergillus oryzae and Penicillium species. It restrains the creation of free tyrosinase by repressing tyrosinase through the chelation of copper at the enzyme's active portion. When used alone, 1–4% of plans are just unassumingly viable. However, it can likewise be used in a combination.  

7. Niacinamide.  

Niacinamide lessens pigmentation by reversibly forestalling the exchange of melanosomes from melanocytes to the keratinocytes. It is a significant compound present in numerous over‐the‐counter creams. Niacinamide can diminish hyperpigmentation following a month of use.  

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8. Glycolic acid  

Glycolic acid straightforwardly represses tyrosinase and decreases hyperpigmentation because of its impacts on epidermal rebuilding and quickened desquamation. A blend of 10% glycolic acid and 4% hydroquinone was powerful in treating melasma. Side‐effects incorporate aggravation and erythema, which settle upon withdrawal and moisturization.

Dr. Stephens suggests darkening skin tone individuals to avoid using glycolic acid over 5%, as it can irritate your skin, causing hot spots and more hyperpigmentation to occur.  

9. Soy  

Soybean reversibly represses the protease‐activated receptor‐2 pathway that is required for melanosome shift. Hindrance in this pathway caused a dose‐dependent loss of pigmentation within four weeks. Additional work on this pathway has indicated that soymilk and the soybean‐derived serine protease inhibitors can hinder both benchmark and UVB‐induced pigmentation.   

10. Retinoids  

Retinoids lessen hyperpigmentation through numerous instruments, including diminishing melanosome transfer and advancing melanin loss through keratinocyte turnover incitement. Retinoids are thought to intrude on melanin combination, hinder tyrosinase transcription, and restrain tyrosinase‐related proteins. 

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11. Turmeric 

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a broadly utilized Ayurvedic home grown enhancement and spice. The dynamic element of turmeric is curcumin, a hydrophobic polyphenol described by yellow pigment. Studies have indicated curcumin to have calming, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Our outlook on skin pigmentation  

Skin pigmentation is, in general, harmless and typically is not considered a serious disease.

However, in some cases, dark areas can cause you irritation, and should refer to dermatologists. Pigmented skin will blur on their own with great SPF assurance.

In different cases, more aggressive treatment is required. There's no assurance that the dull spots will blur totally, even with treatment.