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Natural Home Remedies for Hyperpigmentation

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction:

A variety of human skin colours are evident across the globe ranging from the very pale to very dark skin complexion. There are several conditions related to skin pigmentation over this spectrum of skin tones, resulting in problems ranging from hypopigmentation (patches of skin that are lighter than your actual skin tone) to hyperpigmentation (patches of skin that are darker in colour than the surrounding skin).1

Skin hyperpigmentation occurs when melanin, a pigment that is responsible for imparting colour to the skin, is overproduced in certain areas of the skin. It is important to have a complete understanding of the causes of this condition and the management strategies.2,3

home remedies for hyperpigmentation

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can be caused due to several factors like:

1. Exogenous Factors

These have an external cause or origin and include:

  • Sun damage (these spots are also known as solar lentigines)
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (due to injury to the skin like acne, cuts, or burns)3,4

2. Endogenous Factors

These have an internal source or origin. These might be due to adrenal disorders like Addison’s disease (a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough hormone called cortisone), genetics (for example, freckles), hormonal changes during pregnancy or puberty, medications like oral contraceptives (birth control pills) and medicines that result in sensitivity to light, or thyroid disorders.4

Some other endogenous factors are:

  • Diabetes
  • Acanthosis nigricans- A skin condition that results in dark pigmentation in body folds and creases
  • Acromegaly- Hormonal disorder due to excess secretion of pituitary hormone
  • Carcinoid- Slow-growing cancer that arises in many places in the body
  • Nelson syndrome- A disorder marked by abnormal hormonal production, pituitary gland enlargement, and development of massive and invasive growths called adenomas
  • Cushing’s syndrome- Production of too much cortisol over time, pheochromocytoma (a non-cancerous tumour that grows in the adrenal gland), and hyperthyroidism (excess production of thyroid hormone4

Studies conducted on animals have shown that the use of aloe vera leaf extract, specifically its active compound ‘aloin’, can lead to skin lightening by restricting melanin formation. As a result, aloe vera gel may be employed to alleviate skin hyperpigmentation.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

3. Nutritional Factors

This is due to deficiency of certain vitamins like folic acid, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin A, tryptophan deficiency, and kwashiorkor (a type of malnutrition due to protein deficiency in the diet).3

Did You Know?

Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation:

Different types of hyperpigmentation and their symptoms include:

  • Hyperpigmentation due to Sun Damage: These are small, darkened patches that are commonly observed on the hands, face, and also other sun-exposed areas.
  • Melasma: These appear similar to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin that occur due to hormonal changes.
  • Freckles: Freckles are small, brown spots that can develop anywhere in the body. These spots are, however, common on the face and arms. Freckles, age spots, and other dark skin patches can get darker when exposed to the sun.5

Research has demonstrated that soy contains fatty acids and isoflavones that hinder melanin production (a pigment responsible for skin colour). Soy-based skincare products are proven safe and effective in reducing hyperpigmentation, with noticeable skin lightening results typically seen after 12 weeks of twice-daily use. Prolonged daily use over 7 months does not lead to adverse effects and the depigmentation effects are reversible. You may therefore use soy-based products to reduce hyperpigmentation.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Is Crying Good for Your Skin? Unpack the Research-Based Truth

Suggested Home Remedies for Hyperpigmentation:

Home remedies for hyperpigmentation help improve the appearance of dark skin patches. Some remedies include:

1. Aloe Vera Gel:

The gel of this plant is used to manage many skin conditions. It is used to reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin. Aloesin is the active ingredient of aloe vera and has the potential to prevent an excess of melanin production and skin hyperpigmentation.6 To obtain beneficial effects, you can apply aloe vera gel directly to the affected area. You can also put aloe vera gel in your homemade face masks.

2. Green Tea:

It is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Green tea causes skin lightening effects and is also effective in managing hyperpigmentation lesions. In one study, green tea was also found to be effective in preventing skin redness caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.6 To use green tea for skin, you can make a green tea face mask or put green tea in your homemade mask recipes.  

3. Soy:

This remedy is an effective skin lightening agent. Soybean is helpful in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to acne. It is also effective in photodamage (changes in the appearance of skin due to UV radiation), facial hyper melanosis (altered facial skin pigmentation), and melasma.6 You can add soy to your diet to get the much-needed benefits. Sipping on soy milk is a good option.

4. Rice Water:

This is one of the essential ingredients in several Asian skin and hair treatments. The gel and cream formulations of rice water exhibit skin lightening effect. Rice water is a helpful remedy for dealing with hyperpigmentation.6 There are several ways through which you can make use of rice water.

  • You can massage rice water to your skin and rinse it with water.
  • You can also make a face mask by soaking a thick sheet of tissue paper in rice water and using it as a sheet mask.
  • You can put a small amount of rice water on a cotton pad and apply it gently on the face and neck like a toner.

5. Turmeric:

This home remedy is beneficial in managing hyperpigmentation.7 To use turmeric for skin, you can make a turmeric face mask. To make the facemask, you can mix small amounts of turmeric, honey, and Greek yoghurt and apply it to your face. You can keep the mask for 15 minutes and then wash it off with water.

6. Pomegranate:

Pomegranate is useful in dealing with hyperpigmentation.7 To use pomegranate, you can crush a few seeds and use it as an exfoliating mask. Make sure to massage gently as it might irritate the skin. You can also use pomegranate skin oil. You should apply the oil only after cleansing and toning but before moisturising.

7. Grape Seed Oil:

The oil obtained from grape seeds is rich in vitamin E and C, potent antioxidants. The antioxidant benefits are useful for dealing with hyperpigmentation.8 To use grape seed oil, you can

  • Apply pure grape seed oil as a serum on your face before going to bed.
  • Mix a few drops of seed oil in your moisturiser or cream to get the benefits.
  • Mix grape seed oil with some other essential oil like lavender. You should use not more than a few drops of essential oil with grape seed oil.

When to Seek Medical Help?

You should consult your dermatologist (skin and hair specialist doctor) when you notice symptoms like:

  • Red skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Painful skin
  • Skin that is hot while touching
  • Bleeding or pus discharge from the area of hyperpigmentation.4

Also Read: Red Spots on Skin: Causes, Symptoms, and Research-Based Treatment Strategies

Conclusion:

At times, extra melanin is produced by the skin, resulting in dark spots or patches that contrast with the surrounding skin. Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that can, however, make one self-conscious. The causes of hyperpigmentation can be external and internal. Some of the home remedies that can be used to manage hyperpigmentation include aloe vera gel, green tea, soy, rice water, turmeric and pomegranate. However, you must visit a doctor if you notice red, itchy, or painful skin, skin that feels hot on touching, or bleeding or pus discharge from the hyperpigmented skin.

Also Read: Dark Inner Thighs: Research-Based Causes and Management Options 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a common condition that results in some areas of the skin being darker than other areas. The word ‘hyper’ means more, and ‘pigment’ means colour.4

What are the medical treatment options for hyperpigmentation?

Other treatment options for hyperpigmentation include pigmented lesion laser, cryotherapy, chemical peels, and laser skin resurfacing.4

What are the different hyperpigmentation disorders?

The various hyperpigmentation disorders are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, solar lentigines, ephelides (freckles), café au lait macules (flat, pigmented spots on the skin), etc.9

How are pigmentation disorders diagnosed?

Pigmentation disorders are diagnosed by a doctor by obtaining a proper medical history, physical examination, skin examination, biopsy, and blood tests to check hormones, vitamins, iron, and thyroid function.4

References:

  1. Jean Paul Ortonne, Donald L.Bisset; Latest insights into skin hyperpigmentation. Journal of investigative dermatology symposium proceedings. 2008 Apr 13(1): 10-14 Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15526651
  2. N.A Vashi, R.V Kundu. Facial pigmentation: causes and treatment. British journal of dermatology. 169(3): 41-56 Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjd.12536
  3. Prity Rathee, Sunil Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Beena Kumari, Savita S. Yadav; Skin hyperpigmentation and its treatment with herbs: an alternative method. Future journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 2021 Jul 132 Available from: https://fjps.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s43094-021-00284-6#citeas
  4. Cleveland clinic. Hyperpigmentation. [Internet] Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21885-hyperpigmentation
  5. American osteopathic college of dermatology. Hyperpigmentation. [Internet] Available from: https://www.aocd.org/page/Hyperpigmentation
  6. Sophia Hu, Sophia Wolfe BS, Melissa Laughter, Mona Sadeghpour; The use of botanical extracts in East Asia for treatment of hyperpigmentation: An evidenced-based review. Journal of drugs in dermatology. 2020 Jul 19(7): 758-763 Available from https://jddonline.com/articles/the-use-of-botanical-extracts-in-east-asia-for-treatment-of-hyperpigmentation-an-evidenced-based-rev-S1545961620P0758X/
  7.   Joseph F Fowler Jr, Heather Woolery-Lloyd, Heidi Waldorf, Ritu Saini; Innovations in natural ingredients and their use in skin care. Journal of drugs in dermatology. 2010 June 9(6): 72-81 Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20626172/
  8. Kaur A, Gurjeet Singh T, Dhiman S, Arora S, Babbar R. Novel Herbs Used In Cosmetics For Skin And Hair Care : A REVIEW. Vol. 20. 2020. Available from: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/NOVEL-HERBS-USED-IN-COSMETICS-FOR-SKIN-AND-HAIR-%3A-A-Kaur-Singh/ab3c9cdb988252358eb43a1abf69048f2c6892ec
  9. American academy of family physicians. Pigmentation disorders: diagnosis and management. [Internet] Available from: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/1215/p797.html

Disclaimer:  The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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