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Skin pigmentation may be unpleasant for some people with it or psychologically problematic for other people it affects. For anyone looking to reduce the appearance of spots of different colors on the skin, there are several home remedies for pigmentation that can help.
Pigmentation is the color of the skin. Melanin is a type of skin pigment. Skin cells create melanin to protect from the damage caused by UV light.
Home remedies may not work in all cases, and there are also times when a person should consult a doctor for a complete diagnosis and medical treatment.
People have different levels of melanin in their skin, which explains the general color of their skin. However, the skin can create too much melanin in a specific area, causing the skin to darken. This is hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation tends to affect only skin patches, although in some cases it can affect the entire body. Home remedies may not work in all cases, and there are also times when a person should consult a doctor for a complete diagnosis and medical treatment.
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Types of pigmentation
Common forms of hyperpigmentation include what people often call age spots, which usually occur in areas of the body with frequent sun exposure.
Many forms of hyperpigmentation are harmless and are nothing more than melanin overproduction. However, in some cases, hyperpigmentation may be a sign of an underlying condition. These conditions may include the following:
In all cases, hyperpigmentation itself is not a problem and does not represent any risk to the body. However, an underlying condition may require adequate treatment.
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Home remedies for pigmentation.
In many cases, hyperpigmentation can respond well to simple home remedies. Home remedies aim to replenish and protect cells or replace hyperpigmented cells with fresh new cells.
Most home remedies include acids and antioxidants in certain household products, which can protect and balance the skin. One study notes that dermatologists use many acids as chemical peels to help with skin problems, such as acne and pigmentation. These chemicals include:
- lactic acid
- citric acid
- Glycolic Acid
- salicylic acid
Household products do not expose the skin to as many acids as a chemical peel in the dermatologist's office. However, they can still have mild effects and help improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
Apple cider vinegar
Many people use apple cider vinegar on their skin to try to clear up unwanted pigmentation. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which in some cases can act as a mild chemical peel. As a study in the magazine Complementary and alternative evidence-based medicine notes, apple cider vinegar also contains polyphenols. These act as antioxidants and can protect skin cells.
Skin pigmentation may be unpleasant for some people with it or psychologically problematic for other people it affects.
To use this remedy, apply 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part water in the pigmented area for a few minutes, twice a day. Rinse the area thoroughly afterwards. Watch for any signs of irritation and stop using vinegar if irritation appears in the area.
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Yogurt or milk
Yogurt and milk contain lactic acid, which is a common ingredient in chemical skin peels. Small amounts in these foods can also help with mild hyperpigmentation. Applying yogurt or milk directly to the pigmented area or soaking a cotton ball in milk and applying it to the area can be useful home remedies.
People should let the yogurt or milk sit for a few minutes, and then rinse the area thoroughly and apply moisturizer. Repeating this process twice a day can help some people improve their skin spots.
Green tea and its main active ingredient, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), can help alter skin pigmentation in some cases.
Rinse the area thoroughly afterwards. Watch for any signs of irritation and stop using vinegar if irritation appears in the area.
As a review in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery notes, EGCG is an antioxidant compound that could help block processes in cells that lead to excessive pigmentation. Green tea leaves also contain gallic acid and ellagic acid, which can help improve the skin.
However, the authors point out that more research is needed in people to support these theories. For people who wish to use this remedy, it may be helpful to take an oral EGCG supplement or apply a wet green tea bag to the pigmented area for a few minutes each day.
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The review in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery highlights possible home remedies for hyperpigmentation, including vitamin C. In forms such as ascorbic acid or citric acid, vitamin C can help alter the appearance of the skin.
Green tea leaves also contain gallic acid and ellagic acid, which can help improve the skin.
However, the review also notes that variable levels of vitamin C in food make it very difficult to quantify its effects. However, the researchers also noted that vitamin C has virtually no side effects and that combining it with other options may increase its effectiveness.
The application of accessible sources of vitamin C, such as grapefruit, lemon or papaya, on the skin can help increase surface antioxidants and lighten cells over time.
People can use these sources together with other home remedies for pigmentation to achieve better results. However, it is worth noting that vitamin C does not penetrate the skin very well.
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Red onions can also be a useful skin whitening agent for some people.
A 2011 study in the magazine. Natural Products Research notes that red onion isolates blocked cellular actions that lead to excess pigmentation. It is important to note that the researchers observed isolated compounds, rather than the onion itself. More research in humans is needed to see if the onion itself is effective, but many people still use the onion as a home remedy for pigmentation.
A simple way to use red onion is to grind the onion and add it to an empty tea bag. Apply the bag to the hyperpigmentation area, using medical tape to hold it on the skin if necessary.
Applying aloe vera gel directly on pigmented skin can also be a good way to reduce pigmentation over time. A study in the magazine. Medical plant, which involved tadpole cells, notes that the active ingredient of aloe vera, called aloesin or aloin, could help reduce skin pigmentation.
While more studies on human skin could help provide better support for these results, the initial evidence in animal models seems promising.
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Licorice extract can also help reduce pigmentation naturally.
The review in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery notes that glabridin, which is the main active ingredient in licorice, protects the skin from pigmentation due to UVB rays. Once again, the authors ask for more studies in humans to prove this action.
Many topical creams that contain licorice or its extract may be available without a prescription and will have their own instructions for use.
Mulberry leaves and their extracts can also be natural treatments for pigmentation. As a review in the The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology notes that the active ingredient in mulberry leaf blocks the factors that cause pigmentation and disperses melanin.
Research around the plant uses highly purified forms of the extract. However, soaking dried mulberry leaves and applying them to the skin every day can also expose the body to smaller amounts of these same ingredients, which could provide slight results over time.
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When to see a doctor
If hyperpigmentation does not respond to these home remedies, people can consult a doctor for a full diagnosis and treatment.
The review in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery highlights possible home remedies for hyperpigmentation, including vitamin C.
The treatment will depend on the underlying medical cause, if any. Doctors can refer the person to a dermatologist who can perform treatments, including:
- Laser rejuvenation
- chemical peels
These processes help to resurface the skin and replace damaged cells, which can reduce hyperpigmentation.
To take away
Most of the time, hyperpigmentation is a cosmetic problem that does not represent a real threat to health, apart from the unpleasant sensation for the individual.
Several home remedies or therapies can help reduce the signs of hyperpigmentation on the skin. However, there is not much research in humans that studies the effects of many of these products.
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If home remedies for pigmentation do not work, people can consult a doctor to discuss medical options. Anyone with concerns about their skin problems or who suspects that there is an underlying problem should also make an appointment to be sure.
A complete diagnosis and the necessary medical treatment can help reassure and avoid complications.