That unusual discoloration you’ve observed on your skin is known as skin pigmentation. Essentially, it manifests as patches that appear darker than your natural skin tone due to an excess production of the brown pigment melanin. Skin pigmentation, often resulting in dark patches, is a common occurrence and a major contributor to an uneven skin tone.
Various factors can lead to skin pigmentation, including melasma, often termed the “mask of pregnancy,” which frequently appears in women during pregnancy. Other causes encompass skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, contact dermatitis; skin infections such as acne, ringworm, tinea versicolor, candidiasis; medical conditions; and hormonal changes.
While skin pigmentation is typically harmless, it can occasionally stem from an underlying medical issue. Different types of skin pigmentation include age spots or solar lentiginosis (liver spots), melasma or chloasma, freckles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Here are some practical steps to prevent and address skin pigmentation and dark patches:
- Apply SPF 30 daily before sun exposure, reapplying every 4 hours or using a long-lasting physical sunscreen for extended protection.
- Incorporate apple cider vinegar (ACV) into your daily skincare routine, as its polyphenolic compounds can help manage pigmentation.
- Consider oral supplements like vitamin C or glutathione to boost the skin’s resilience against harmful UV rays.
- Maintain well-moisturized skin using over-the-counter products containing moisturizing agents like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and retinol, promoting cell turnover and benefiting pigmentation.
- Seek products with alpha hydroxy acid, vitamin C, licorice root, and kojic acid, which help reduce pigmentation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for melanin formation.
- Utilize black tea water by applying it to pigmented skin twice daily using a soaked cotton ball.
- Avoid scratching or picking at pigmented areas, as this can exacerbate inflammation and contribute to skin discoloration. Early treatment is crucial for more effective pigmentation resolution, as pigments can deepen into the skin over time.