Skin pigmentation, which is a term used interchangeably with hyperpigmentation, is a skin condition that is characterized by spots on the skin. Any part of the skin could be affected by skin pigmentation, but mostly, the part where it occurs most and where it gives the most reason for concern is the face.
The skin of the face has two times more pigments than the skin on any part of the body. It is more vulnerable, and generally, you would want to present your best face anywhere you found yourself. In pigmentation generally, some parts of the skin are darker than the others.
The Role of Melanin in Skin Pigmentation.
The skin is a protective layer over the whole body, and it is packed with features to enable it serve its protective function. One of those features is melanin.
Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin it’s color. The word ‘pigment’, actually translates to color. Melanocytes, cells in the deeper layers of the skin, produce these melanin pigments, package them in small packets called melanosomes, and send them to the surface of the skin, where they give the skin it’s dark color. You would have guessed, the more melanin a person has, the darker that person is.
As mentioned earlier, this melanin is intended for protecting the skin, and it shields the skin from ultraviolet rays(UVA and UVR) that come from the sun. However, there can sometimes be a pigment disorder that could result from this melanin, and you can learn more about this in the section titled Causes of Skin Pigmentation below.
Ayurvedic Perception of Hyperpigmentation
As a holistic medicine, Ayurveda isn’t only concerned about treating the pigmentation, but also the underlying cause, just as Medhya Herbals intends. After all, being the largest organ of the body and stretching across the whole body, the skin is connected in many ways to the systems of the body, and a problem on the skin might be indicative of a deeper underlying problem than that spot presenting on the skin.
Yoga Ratnaker, as hyperpigmentation is referred to in Ayurvedic medicine, is caused by an imbalance in the vata(air and space) and pitta(fire and water) doshas, which are the skin doshas. This imbalance then causes the pigmentation disorder.
What Causes Skin Pigmentation?
Why is my skin developing hyperpigmentation? Skin pigmentation, like many other pigmentation disorders, generally occurs as a result of an imbalance in the rate of production of melanin by those cells called melanocytes. Melanin periodically gets sloughed off the surface of the skin and then replaced. However, when these melanocytes underproduce melanin, the replacement of the lost pigments is not done quickly enough, causing the skin to pale and lose color.
When these cells go hyperactive on the other hand, there is an excess of melanin, and dark spots or patches begin to appear on the areas where the overproducing clusters of melanocytes are located. It is these dark spots that are then referred to as the pigmentations.
Our concern here then is the reason why melanocytes begin to overproduce to cause this skin pigmentation. Some of the reasons include:
- Overexposure to UV Rays From Sunlight: This is probably the chief cause. Remember that the purpose of the melanin is to protect the skin from these UV rays in the first place. When the skin is exposed to more of these rays, the melanocytes are forced to produce more melanin in order to compensate for the increased exposure. On some other parts of the skin, the overexposure to sunlight kills off the melanocytes completely, and as a result, those parts become lacking in melanin, and become lighter. So two things are happening: some parts of the skin are getting darker while some others are getting lighter.
Africans generally have darker skin as an adaptation to their hotter tropical climate relative to the rest of the world.
And while on the subject of overexposure to sunlight and UV rays making you get darker, it is good to talk about tanning in relation to skin pigmentation. A tan is something that most people covet. They want that golden brown, shiny skin, and so they go to the beaches, spend time outdoors under the sun in order to increase exposure to the sun, but the truth is that a tan is a certain sign of skin damage. It indicates that the skin, particularly the melanocytes, are being overworked. If the damage is left to accumulate over time, it can lead to cancer.
- Stress: Another reason why overexposure can cause pigmentation is that these rays can cause damage to DNA, and damage to the DNA causes stress to the body, and in turn, this causes release of more pigments, causing more pigmentation. Physical stress can also cause this.
- Hormonal Surges: Another common cause of these skin pigmentation is a surge in the level of hormones, like estrogen. During pregnancy for example, when hormone levels are increased, there is increase in pigmentation.
- Trauma here refers to wounds, injuries, inflammation of all kinds, mostly one that involves the skin opening up, i.e. a tear, a cut, an abrasion,etc. In the healing process, the dead cell on that area of skin have to be cleared off, so enzymes called collagenases are deployed to remove the collagen binding these cells to skin so that the cells can be easily sloughed off. However, this collagen is not completely replaced when new cells are being made to occupy the space of the new cells, and as a result, pigments are recruited to protect the wounded skin instead. Sometimes, scars are formed.
- Irritation: A patch of skin can be irritated due to exposure to chemicals from skin care products used, chemicals such as salicylcic acids, bleomycin, etc, or mercury poisoning.
- Fungal Infections.
How To Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation?
There are many quick fixes for hyperpigmentation. Dermatologists would usually recommend the use of face acids, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, laser peels, chemical peels, etc, but what many of these have in common is that while they can give immediate results for pigmentation disorders, they usually damage the acid mantle of the skin, which is a natural protective layer of oils and fats on the surface of the skin.
Aside this, with most of these treatments, another therapy or session of it is usually needed after three to five months because the pigmentation will begin to appear again. The skin coloration has only been removed at a superficial level, but the underlying problems have not been addressed.
All Natural Holistic Cure of Hyperpigmentation with Ayurveda.
As with any other approach to cures that are proffered by Ayurveda, the cure is focused leading on to a complete cure without any relapses, completely uprooting the tree from the root. It recognizes the uniqueness of individuals before proposing a regimen for them.
However, some basic approaches can still be taken by individuals that will definitely produce results, and will leave you feeling healthy. Some ayurvedic remedies for skin pigmentation are:
1. Exfoliation: this removes layers of dead cell from the skin and prevent accumulation of melanin unnecessarily. You can make your own exfoliating soap if you have:
- 1/2 cup clear glycerin soap base
- 4 tablespoons aloe vera
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
With all these ready, you can then:
- Cut the glycerin soap base into chunks and melt in the microwave.
- Leave it to cool for about 10 minutes;
- add aloe vera and chia seeds and stir for several minutes.
- finally, pour the mixture into soap molds and leave to cool and harden.
You can only use exfoliating face masks if you want to be specific to the face. However, whatever you do, ensure to moisturize the skin after exfoliation. The dead cells that have been removed serve as a layer of defense, and if moisturization isn’t done, the skin is left vulnerable.
2. Using Sunscreen: you can easily make a natural sunscreen with:
1/2 cup almond, 1/4 cup coconut oil , 1/4 cup beeswax, 2 tablespoons zinc oxide, 1 teaspoon carrot seed oil, 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil, 2 tablespoons of shea butter and 1 teaspoon of Vitamin E.
Mix all of the above ingredients,, in a glass jar , except the zinc oxide and close the jar with a lid.
Fill a medium-sized pan with water and place over a medium flame.
Put the jar into the pan.
When your ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide; stir to combine well.
Afterwards, pour your mixture into a cosmetic jar for storage
Lifestyle Changes to Clear your Skin
From the piece so far, you can see that the chief cause of these skin disorders is overexposure to sunlight, so most of the lifestyle changes are geared towards reducing this exposure. These include:
- Use of sunscreen as said above, with Sun Protection Factor(SPF) of at least 30.
- Reduce exposure to sunlight,
- Stay under shades as much possible at beaches
- Also at the beach, reapply sunscreen every three to four hours, as sweat washes it off, and reapply each time you come out of the water.
- Wear wide brimmed hats and sunglasses
- Quit smoking
- Avoid stess, take breaks when necessary.
- Panchakarma therapy
Diet Changes for a Clear and Glowing Skin
- Since it skin pigmentation is caused by an imbalance in pitta and vata doshas, eat diets that pacify the pitta and vata doshas.
- Eat seasonal juicy fruits.
- Take green tea in abundance.
- Embrace cucumbers, barleys, legumes, bell pepper, barleys, broccoli, buck wheat.
What is skin pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is a spot or a group of spots that appear on the skin. It could manifest as freckles, age spots, melasma, post inflammatory pigmentation, or dark circles.
Is skin pigmentation dangerous?
Skin conditions generally indicate a problem with health. You should see make consultations to know which type you have and to ensure it is not a melanoma.
What is the difference between skin pigmentation and hyperpigmentation?
Skin pigmentation and hyperpigmentation are the same, and they can be used interchangeably.
What is the cause of skin pigmentation?
The causes have been listed above, and an addition is that acne scars can also cause pigmentation.
How to cure skin pigmentation?
Remember, your body is a microcosm of the universe, and like the universe, it was made to self-regulate, to take care of itself.
You have more questions? Comment below, and our in-house experts in Ayurveda will respond to you promptly.