Pigmentation is a disorder of skin complexion and color. It results mainly due to the malfunctioning of the endocrine glands and the liver. The genetic background of a person also can influence pigmentation disorder.
This problem occurs as either an excessive coloration or darkening of the skin, or a loss of color and the pigment in the skin, over the entire body or just in patches & spots.
Skin color is determined by the amount of melanin in the skin. Fair-skinned people produce very little melanin, darker-skinned people produce moderate amounts, and very dark-skinned people produce the most.
Melanin is fairly evenly distributed in the skin, but sometimes people have spots or patches of skin with more melanin. Examples of such spots include freckles, age spots (lenities), and Melasma.
Melanin is produced by special cells called Melanocytes in the basal layer ( i.e. stratum germinativum) of the skin. When these cells get damaged, it directly affects on the production and quality of melanin & as a result pigmentation patches are formed on the skin.
The production of the coloring agent Melanin in our skin is influenced by the hormones produced by the Endocrinol system.
Certain internal conditions such as menopause and related disorders have adverse effects on the Endocrinol system causing hormonal imbalance. This further results in an over- secretion of the coloring pigment.
Pigmentation is very commonly spread problem among the middle-aged women. Very few women in younger age suffer from this problem. It is related to the Endocrinol changes that occurs when women reach middle age.
The severity of pigmentation problem is associated with several diseases and disorders. To understand the unusual occurrence of pigmentation, we need to understand internal as well as external causes of pigmentation.
Internal Factors Causing Pigmentation
Pigmentation of the skin can be the result of internal disorder in the body. We ought to make a correct diagnosis of these diseases and disorders so as to effectively clear up the pigmentation.
- An outbreak of freckles and dark spots all over the body could be due to Addison’s disease. This disease causes the damage and impairment of cortical part of the adrenal glands. The darkening of the skin in Addison’s disease is referred to as “ bronzing” and usually develops in the areas of the skin that are exposed to direct sunlight.
- Due to over absorption of iron from the food in the intestinal tract, a bronze pigmentation appears all over the body.
- When the skin turns bluish or purplish, it is due to the lack of oxygen in the blood. The oxygen- poor blood is bluish-red in color. Women suffering from pneumonia, lung diseases and some heart problems are troubled with this type of pigmentation.
- Menopause results in decline in the hormonal levels, which in turn affect the secretion of the coloring pigment in our skin. In case of surgical menopause by removal of ovaries and uterus, the pigmentation is more obvious and severe in nature.
- Sometimes, during pregnancy, dark brown spots appear predominantly on the face. The main reason for these brown spots is the hormonal imbalance caused during the pregnancy.
- Jaundice is another cause- the skin turns yellow due to the presence of excess bile in the blood and the body tissue. This disorder appears when the liver becomes incapacitated or when an obstruction appears in the bile tract.
- Deficiency of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin A, E & B complex result in patchy and spotty discoloration of the skin.
Lack of Vitamin A results in thickening and darkening of the skin. Vitamin E & B complex deficiency can cause excessive skin pigmentation problem.
External Factors Causing Pigmentation
There are three external factors that can cause Pigmentation of the skin.
- Excessive Sun Exposure
over exposure to sun without a shield tans and darkens the skin tone. The ultraviolet rays of the sun penetrate the skin and damage the skin cells.
In the sun, the hormone MSH (Melanin Stimulate hormone) stimulates the melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis to produce melanin. The pigment protects the body from harmful effects of the sun’s rays since dark colors absorbs radiation.
When the skin is exposed to UV radiation, melanocytes send more melanin to the surface of the skin.
Melanin directly absorbs UV rays and attempts to prevent the skin from burning.
As more melanin accumulates, the skin gets tan or freckle.
Sunburn occurs when your skin cannot produce melanin quickly enough to prevent UV rays from injuring blood vessels close to the skin’s surface.
- Use of wrong cosmetics
Certain makeup products which have chemical colors, creams that have mercury drug preparations react adversely on the skin’s surface. The result is pigmentation.
- Oral Medication
The medicines prescribed for high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, birth control and acne treatment have an unfavorable effect on the skin. More often, these medication cause spot pigmentation.
Types of Pigmentation
It’s important to correctly diagnose the cause and type of pigmentation to ensure we take best approach. There are two major types of Pigmentation
Hyper-pigmentation occurs when skin produces more melanin. This can create patches or spots on skin appear darker than the surrounding area.
Melasma is dark skin discoloration or tanning of skin due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, exposure to sun, skin irritation. It can fade with time.
Freckles are small yellow-brown spots which are more likely result of the excessive sunlight exposure. But sometimes they can be genetic and appear from the childhood.
PIH (Post Inflammatory hyper pigmentation) appears in response to the inflammation of the skin. It is usually triggered by acne, a wound, rash that causes inflammation of the skin. It is usually in pink, red, brown, black in color.
Sunburn is a reddish type of skin discoloration and occurs due to over sun exposure. This type of pigmentation is very common with the fairer or lighter skin type.
Hypo-pigmentation is result of lack of pigment i.e. reduction in melanin production. In this type of pigmentation skin becomes lighter or whiter than the normal.
Albinism is a result of complete or partial absence of melanin pigment in the body and includes skin, hair and eyes. Albinism is an inherited disorder.
A defect in one of the several genes that produce or distribute melanin causes albinism.
The person facing this kind of pigmentation problem is at high risk of developing skin cancer. They are very sensitive to harsh light or sunlight.
Vitiligo is a condition in which smooth white patches develop on the skin because the pigment forming cells i.e. melanocytes are destroyed. It might be an autoimmune condition, in which melanocytes are destroyed by the body’s immune system.
Home remedies to treat Pigmentation
There are several ways that you can treat hyper-pigmentation at home. Pigmentation which is caused by external factors can be easily treated at home. But there has to be consistency in the treatment. You have to follow them regularly to get desired effect.
While considering internal factors that cause pigmentation need to be advised or treated by dermatologist.
You can try out theses home remedies if your pigmentation is not caused by medical issue.
In this home remedy you will need Yogurt, crushed or powdered sugar, lemon juice, sandalwood powder, potato juice, turmeric.
How it works
Yogurt contains lactic acid which will exfoliate your skin.
Sugar is good source of glycolic acid which is type of alpha-hydroxy-acid which again helps to shed dead skin cells and reveal newer & brighter layer underneath by acting on stratum corneum (the outer most layer of the skin).
Lemons are in rich in vitamin C and citric acid and perfect for skin lightening and brightening. But you cannot use it alone.
This is a two-step remedy. First we will use scrub followed by face pack.
- First we will make a scrub to remove dead skin cells.
For this purpose take 2 tsp. yogurt, 2 tsp. powder sugar, and lemon juice (half squeezed).
- Apply yogurt on your face or pigmented area on your body for 20 minutes.
- Now add lemon juice into powder sugar and then scrub it in circular motion on your face or pigmented body part for 2-3 minutes. Use the same half peeled lemon for scrubbing instead of using your figures.
- Add Sandalwood powder 1 tsp, Potato juice 2-3 tsp. to make smooth paste, a pinch of turmeric powder
- Mix well all the ingredients together, then apply pack on face for 15-20 mins.
You can add vitamin C serum in face pack to get best result.
1 tsp. Papaya juice, 2 tsp. red lentil ( lal masoor), 1 tsp.potato juice, 1tsp.yogurt, coconut oil ( optional only needed in case of sensitive or dry skin).
How it works
Papaya contains essential vitamins A, C and antioxidants lycopene which makes skin look radiant and toned. The enzyme papain acts as a strong exfoliator.
Red lentil ( masoor dal) is full of antioxidants that prevent and minimize cell and tissue damage, also lighten up skin quickly.
Potato juice contains an enzyme called catecholase which helps to brighten skin and minimize dark spots. It also contains vitamin C, B.
Yogurt is good source of lactic acid.
Coconut oil contains vitamin E and keeps skin moisture intact.
- Add 2 tsp. red lentil powder, 1 tsp. yogurt, 1 tsp. papaya juice, 1 tsp. potato juice and if you have dry or sensitive skin add half tsp. coconut oil.
- Mix them well to make paste.
- Apply it all over the face or pigmented part of the body.
- Leave it for 2-3 minutes and scrub it in circular motion for 5 minutes. Then wash it with the water.
- Apply moisturizer.
This scrub is suitable for all skin types as it is very light scrub. For better results apply 2 times a week.
Yogurt 2 tsp., lemon juice 1 tsp., coffee powder 1 tsp., half cut tomato, turmeric.
How it works
As we have seen earlier yogurt is good source of lactic acid that exfoliate & moisturize skin.
Lemon juice is full of vitamin C and citric acid.
Coffee powder contains caffeine, which has anti-inflammatory properties that help to get rid of dark spots and antioxidant that safeguard our skin from free radicals.
Tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, which is natural skin brightening agent. Also, it is a natural astringent which not only reduce the open pores but also prevents occurrence of black heads & white heads.
- Remove all excess water from the yogurt, it should be thick enough to make paste.
- Now add yogurt, lemon juice and coffee powder together and make thick paste.
- Apply thin layer all over the face or pigmented part of the body.
- Rest it for 15-20 mins.
- Now wash it off.
- Cut tomato in half , poke it with knife and sprinkle a pinch of turmeric powder all over it.
- Rub it in circular motion on your face for 5 minutes and keep it for more 5 minutes. Use light hand for rubbing.
- You can follow this remedy for 2-3 times in a week.
- It will remove tanning and lighten your skin instantly.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Avoid excessive sun exposure to the areas of increased pigmentation.
- Wear sunscreen or sun block cream with SPF 40 or higher before going out in the sun.
- Avoid facial steam or excessive exfoliating which will make your skin red. It will increase melanin production.
- Do not use cosmetics which have coloring agents. Try to avoid or else use minimum makeup.
- If the complexion is pale and dull, supplement vitamin A, in your diet to improve color.
- In case of uneven skin tone in patches, supplement Iron and calcium in your diet with advice of a doctor.
- In case of a severe pigmentation for a long period of time, consult a physician.
- Avoid stress and anxiety as much as possible.