How to Treat Hyperpigmentation at Home
You might be familiar with pigmentation in the form of sunspots and freckles, and if you are a young person you probably don’t pay much attention to pigmentation. It is often pushed aside as a condition older people will have to deal with. Pigmentation is also known as hyperpigmentation, and it is a condition when the skin produces higher levels of the pigment called melanin, which is what gives our skin their color. The amount of melanin differs from person to person. It can manifest in many different forms and some types of pigmentation are more likely to be found in certain areas of the skin. It is basically a patch of darker skin, which is largely harmless, but it can also be a sign of a bigger concern.
What are the types of pigmentation?
Pigmentation comes in different types and forms depending on where it is found. Here is a list of the common types of pigmentation:
1. Melasma (chloasma)
This type of pigmentation is more often found on the face and occurs in patches of greyish or brown skin. The more common areas of the face that will be affected are the forehead, bridge of the nose, and the cheeks. Melasma occurs mostly in women, with over 90% of affected people being females. Melasma is also usually caused by changes in hormone levels and activity in the body. Women tend to see it occur during pregnancy when hormones cause melanin to be produced more rapidly. It also might occur after taking hormonal contraceptive pills.
2. Liver spots (solar lentiginosis)
Solar lentiginosis, more commonly referred to by its other name liver spots or age spots, occurs as flat, dark spots on areas that are more exposed to the sun such as the hands, arms, face, and shoulders. This is the pigmentation type that we most commonly associate with aging and UV exposure. It is a result of sun damage and is also a sign that your skin is aging from too much sun exposure.
3. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or its acronym PIH as it’s known, occurs after there has been damage done to the skin, such as an injury, severe acne, or overaggressive chemical treatments. The affected skin will turn brown, red, or purple after a period of inflammatory reactions. It affects people with deeper skin tones more, with 65% of people experiencing it being African Americans.
4. Freckles (ephelides)
Freckles can either occur naturally or come about due to sun exposure. Freckles are an inherited gene among people with lighter skin and appear as a smattering of small brown dots across the face, commonly across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. If you spend a lot of time under the sun, you can also get freckles on your face, shoulders, arms, and any area that has been exposed to the sun.
What are more serious types of pigmentation?
Vitiligo is a skin condition in which the skin loses its melanocytes, which are the cells that contain melanin. This will result in patches of discolored skin on some areas of the body including the face and scalp. People might even have patches of white hair in the areas that are affected by a lack of melanocytes.
Albinism is a genetically-inherited skin disorder in which people are born without melanin pigment. This results in them having extremely pale skin, hair, and eye colors. It is thankfully not a disease but rather just the result of a defective gene.
How can I treat pigmentation at home?
Pigmentation can be pretty expensive to treat, especially since you will require procedures such as laser or dermabrasion to see effective results. Hence, we have put together a list of remedies you can use at home to try and lighten the pigmentation marks you have! They will not totally rid you of the spots, but these ingredients are cheap enough to give it a shot.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has special compounds such as polyphenols, pectin, and carotenoids that can all help with reducing the appearance of pigmentation. It also contains acetic acid which is shown to help lighten pigmentation marks. To use it, mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, dip a cotton ball or swab into it, and apply it to the areas that have pigmentation. Leave the apple cider vinegar on for around three to four minutes before washing it off with some warm water. You can do this twice a day.
Aloe vera is a great natural ingredient for the skin and has many different benefits and uses. It is also great for pigmentation as it contains a natural compound called aloin, which is known for lightening the skin and reducing the amount of pigment. It is hence a really effective treatment for lightening your pigmentation marks! It is also super easy to use. Just apply some pure aloe vera gel to the parts with pigmentation and leave it overnight. Wash it off with some warm water when you wake up. If you grow your own aloe vera, even better! You get fresh, raw aloe vera gel all to yourself.
Lemons are a very good ingredient for reducing pigmentation because it has bleaching properties thanks to the citric acid in it. It is a gentle bleach, so don’t worry about burning your skin! You can find it as an ingredient in many skincare products targeted at lightening the skin. What’s more, if you use lemon juice regularly, you will see that not only does it reduce the darkness of your pigmentation spots, it also helps to break down melanin production and cut the overproduction of the pigment. This will be very useful for preventing further pigmentation. However, lemon juice can be irritating to sensitive skin so do a patch test before you apply it to your face. You should also maybe not apply lemon juice directly as it might be too strong. Try diluting it with some water and add raw honey to soothe the skin. Apply the mixture to your pigmented areas and let it sit for around 15 minutes. Then wash it off with some warm water.
While these home remedies are all worth trying, it’s also important to remember that the best method is prevention. Be diligent with your sun protection and don’t stay under the sun for prolonged periods of time!