Skin care encompasses a wide spectrum of concerns and one issue that many people worry about is the tone of their skin. In fact, there are many ways in which skin color can be affected. It can become pale or too dark and, in some cases, there can be changes to skin tone that only affect certain parts of the body. It’s important to know what causes these changes, so you can better understand how to treat each condition.
As the director of the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute, located in southern California, Dr. Pearl Grimes is familiar with conditions that cause a loss of pigmentation to certain areas of the body. Vitiligo, which is sometimes attributed to psychological factors, causes a loss of pigmentation that can occur on the fingers, in body hair, or even the inside of the mouth. Dr. Grimes advises people who experience this change in skin tone to seek out specialists who work directly with vitiligo, because other doctors may not be aware of the latest treatments for this rare disease.
Pregnant Women Should Watch for Melasma
Melasma, which might be the opposite of vitiligo, involves a darkening of the skin in some areas of the face and body. Pregnant women in particular may develop the brown or grayish-brown patches on their face, says Dr. Bruce Robinson, a New York dermatologist. In addition to the condition of pregnancy, he adds that melasma can be aggravated by birth control pills and by exposure to direct sunlight. After pregnancy, much like stopping birth control medication and avoiding sunlight, can give the skin its normal appearance once again, but that doesn’t mean it won’t re-emerge. In fact, people who do develop melasma often battle it throughout their lives.
Tropical Drinks Can Cause Phytophotodermatitis
If your skin is darkening, but just on the hands and around the mouth, you likely have been vacationing somewhere that serves tropical drinks. The citrus in lime and similar fruits produces a chemical that, when combined with direct sunlight, can react badly with skin. In most cases, people often dismiss the condition, which also causes blisters and burning of the skin, as normal, run-of-the-mill sunburn. Nicknamed “Club Med Dermatitis” and “Mexican Beer Dermatitis,” the condition generally dissipates on its own within a few months.
A Darkening in the Folds of the Skin
This can be caused by a number of factors. While some people experience this type of skin tone change due to being overweight, it can also be caused by diabetes. If it’s not either of those two conditions, a darkening in the folds of the skin may otherwise signify the onset of acanthosis nigricans. In this case, it can be treated with skin creams with advanced moisturizing ingredients.
Skin cancer is rare in relation to other causes of skin tone changes, but it does occur and you should be watchful for it. If your skin turns a slate blue in tone, or if you have moles that have changed color, you should seek out a medical consultation immediately. The change in skin color to slate blue is often a sign of melanoma that has turned cancerous, so delaying a trip to your doctor is unwise in this case. This is one condition that cannot be treated at home.
Another condition that causes an uneven skin tone is hyperpigmentation and, among similar conditions, this may be the most common. In this condition, the body produces too much melanin, the hormone responsible for skin and hair color, and the effect is that darker patches appear on the skin. People who develop this often look to be much older than they really are with some individuals appearing 12 years older or more.
Hyperpigmentation can result from a number of different causes. Melasma falls under this category, so, again, it can be caused or aggravated by pregnancy and birth control. Additionally, overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause the development of dark spots associated with the condition. Finally, previous skin damage can make you more susceptible to developing hyperpigmentation. If you have previously had severe acne that left scars or lesions, for example, you may be at risk for developing this condition, as well.
Treating Hyperpigmentation and Other Skin Tone Changes
There are some things you can do at home to help even your skin tone and reduce blemishes. The number one most recommended tip is to always use a sunscreen with a Broad Spectrum SPF of 30 or higher. Since an overexposure to direct sunlight is the chief cause of hyperpigmentation, using a sunscreen with Oleosome technology, which enhances SPF performance, is suggested.
If you’re already experiencing skin tone changes, dermatologists recommend following a daily ritual that involves exfoliating affected areas. A micro-fine exfoliant will be gentler on your skin, but will still clear away dead skin cells. Afterwards, apply lotions and moisturizers to strengthen and improve your skin. Additionally, skincare products containing activated charcoal will help remove pollutants.
Skincare products with Oligopeptides, Niacinamide, and Zinc Glycinate will keep the body from over producing melanin. Retinol helps restore the skin’s natural glow.
Finally, you must have patience and continue with your daily skincare treatments, even if you begin to feel frustrated. It typically takes awhile, before results can be observed. After thirty days, you should begin seeing some improvement, but it may take up to four months, before you’ll experience a 75% brightening of the skin.
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