Melasama, Ayurveda, hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation Causes, Management + Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition. Some parts of the skin become darker compared to the immediate surrounding skin. Hyperpigmentation causes are diverse. Topical management is available but try also the Ayurvedic home remedies for hyperpigmentation.

Let’s First Talk About Melanin

When melanin production increases in the skin and an excess of melanin starts depositing in the skin, it leads to hyperpigmentation. However hyperpigmentation is a broad term. In the ancient Ayurvedic texts, descriptions of various skin problems can be correlated to modern day hyperpigmentation.

Skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin. Melanin is also present in hair and eyes and is responsible for their color. Melanin is produced by a group of special cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are present in the bottom layer of the epidermis.

People with dark skin have more melanin in their skin compared to those with light-colored skin. They are more prone to hyperpigmentation, especially when exposed to excessive sunlight.

Melanin is of three types – eumelanin, pheomelanin and neuromelanin. Among these three types the most common type is eumelanin.

Eumelanin further has two sub types which are brown eumelanin and black eumelanin.

Hyperpigmentation is usually a harmless condition. Sometimes hyperpigmentation can also be an indication of some underlying disease.

Brown, deep brown or black-colored discoloration is more common in hyperpigmented skin. But sometimes pink or purple discoloration can also appear over the skin.

Hyperpigmented skin may be localized or more diffuse in presentation.

Hyperpigmentation Causes

Hyperpigmentation causes, hyperpigmented skin Ayurvedic home remedies.Exposure to sunlight is among the most common causes of hyperpigmentation. The sun’s UV rays (ultraviolet rays) trigger the mechanism of melanogenesis. Hyperpigmentation occurs to protect the skin cells from damaging UV rays.

Inflammation and injury of the skin may lead to hyperpigmentation.

Freckles and age spots also lead to hyperpigmentation.

Acne vulgaris may lead to hyperpigmented skin due to scarring.

A common skin condition in women called melasma is another source of hyperpigmentation. If it occurs in a pregnant woman then it is called chloasma faciei or the mask of pregnancy. In this condition, tan or dark colored patches occur on the skin.

Melasma occurrence is common in those taking contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.

Hyperpigmentation is also associated with metabolic causesIt includes vitamin deficiencies like B12 and folic acid.

Addison’s disease and other sources of adrenal insufficiency are causes of hyperpigmented skin. In these conditions melanin synthesis is stimulated. As a result, more melanin is formed in the skin which further leads to hyperpigmented skin.

Cushing’s disease or other excessive adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production may also cause hyperpigmentation.

In Acanthosis nigricans, dark patches form on the skin in the skin folds and other areas like the armpits, groin, knees, palms and soles of the feet. Other symptoms occur as well. It is usually associated with insulin resistance and can be a sign of pre-diabetes.

In pregnant women a brown or dark brown vertical line usually formed over the abdomen is called linea nigra. However this line disappears within a few months after delivery.

Certain medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cytotoxic drugs, antimalarials, heavy metals and psychotropic drugs can promote hyperpigmentation.

Smoker’s melanosis is a brown to black pigmentation of the oral tissue. It occurs in smokers who use drugs containing nicotine. It can be seen with the naked eye.

Exposure to chemicals like salicylic acid, bleomycin and cisplatin can cause hyperpigmentation.

Mercury poisoning can lead to hyperpigmentation. It occurs when there is cutaneous exposure from topical application of mercurial ointments or skin-whitening creams.

Fungal infections like tinea cruris, tinea corporis and tinea versicolor can also cause hyperpigmentation.

Many health conditions like celiac disease, haemochromatosis, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Cronkite-Canada syndrome, porphyria, Grave’s disease, Nelson’s syndrome, aromatase deficiency, allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, medullary cystic kidney disease, ichthyosis vulgaris, some malignant conditions and autoimmune conditions also promote the problem of hyperpigmentation.

Sometimes dermatological laser procedures can induce hyperpigmentation. Treatment for this depends upon the procedure which caused hyperpigmentation and the severity of the hyperpigmentation.

How To Determine The Cause Of Hyperpigmentation

A person with hyperpigmented skin should visit a dermatologist or skin specialist however one can also visit a general physician.

The physician will examine your skin and take a complete medical history. These things are important while making a diagnosis for hyperpigmentation.

If any investigation related to some underlying disease is required, the physician can make a proper diagnosis and rule out the exact cause.

Management Of Hyperpigmentation

A variety of treatment options are available for hyperpigmentation. The results of these treatments depend upon the severity of the hyperpigmented skin. Results can also vary from person to person.

When hyperpigmentation occurs due to some other disease, then the first line of all treatment of the underlying disease process or elimination of the causative medication responsible for the hyperpigmentation should be done.

As sunlight is a very common cause behind hyperpigmentation, protect the skin from sunlight by applying  30+ sunscreen lotions regularly. Make sure it contains physical blockers like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. It should be able to block both UVA and UVB rays and have an SPF of 30 or higher.

Hyperpigmentation causes, hyperpigmented skin, Ayurvedic home remedies.

Get advice from your skin specialist for your skin type.

Also, use physical barriers for protection from sunlight including hats, sunglasses and clothing. This will help reduce your exposure to sunlight.

READ MORE: 5 Sacred Skincare Rituals For Highly Sensitive Skin 

Topical Management

A number of agents have been used topically to reduce hyperpigmented skin. However their efficacy may vary according to the skin condition. Here’s a list of commonly used topical agents.

  1. Hydroquinone, the most common agent used for the management of hyperpigmentation.
  2. Azelaic acid
  3. Kojic acid
  4. Tretinoin 0.05%
  5. Tazarotene 0.1% cream
  6. Adapalene 0.3% gel
  7. Niacinamide
  8. Cysteamine hydrochloride

Chemical Peels

With chemical peels, a layer of acid solution is used to treat hyperpigmentation.

Superficial chemical peels are effective to manage hyperpigmentation in some conditions. There are many options included under chemical peels including the following.

  1. Glycolic acid 20-70%
  2. Salicylic acid 20-30%
  3. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) 10-25%
  4. Jessner’s solution

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is an exfoliating technique which is performed by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

In dermabrasion, a rotating instrument is used to remove the outer layers of the skin. This procedure makes way for new, smoother layers of skin to surface.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure.

A minimally abrasive instrument is used to gently sand the skin, removing the thicker and uneven outer layer.

In microdermabrasion, tiny exfoliating crystals can also be sprayed over the skin for treatment.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy can be effective for hyperpigmentation with durable improvement.

Lasers or light amplification are sources of high intensity monochromatic coherent light. These targeted beams of light are used to reduce hyperpigmentation.

The two types of laser therapies which are generally used are ablative lasers and non-ablative lasers.

Ablative lasers remove skin layers while the non-ablative procedure targets the dermis to promote collagen growth and tightening effects.

READ MORE: Neem Oil Benefits, Uses, Neem Oil For Skin

Ayurveda And Hyperpigmentation

The Ayurvedic texts describe a variety of skin problems including hyperpigmentation.

According to the renowned Ayurvedic text, the Yoga Ratnakar, hyperpigmentation can be correlated with vyanga, nyasha, neelika.

All of these skin conditions have been described under the category of kshudra roga. Kshudra roga means minor diseases.

Let’s look at each of these skin conditions individually.

Nyasha

Nyasha is found in any part of the body except the face. It is a large or small patch which is black or brownish-black in color and painless. The patch itself is called nyasha. It is also called laanchan.1

Vyanga Or Mukh Vyanga

Due to anger and excessive physical activity Vata dosha and Pitta dosha become vitiated. These vitiated dosha form a patch on the facial skin.

The patches are painless, thin and black or brownish-black in color. They are called vyanga. It is commonly known as jhaai or chaahi.1

This condition can be correlated with freckles or melasma.

Neelika

When a patch is present over the face or body and is extremely black and has similar properties to vyanga, it is called neelika.

In common language it is called neeli jhaai. It is darker or more black in color than nyasha or vyanga.1

Hyperpigmentation In Ayurveda: Vyanga And Neelika

In the Charaka Samhita, the author Charaka described conditions like vyanga and neelika in the 18th chapter of the first section (sutra sthana). The name of the chapter is tri shotheeya adhyaya, chapter covering three types of inflammation or swelling.

Vyanga and neelika were also explained under sthaniya shotha (localized inflammatory conditions).

According to the text, when aggravated Pitta dosha dries up along with rakta or blood in the skin, skin diseases like tila, pipalu, vyanga and neelika (explained above) occur.2

Causes Of Inflammation (Shotha) According To Ayurveda

Inflammation occurs for the following reasons.

  • Due to excision wounds and incision wounds
  • Due to crumbling and fracture
  • After exposure to excessive pressure and crushing
  • From physical assault and serious or extensive injury
  • Due to tight tying
  • Due to piercing by thorns
  • Due to compression or squeezing
  • From contact with flowers, fruits or juice of bhallataka or marking nut
  • From contact with hairs of the Mucuna pruriens fruit
  • Due to poisonous insect bite
  • From contact with poisonous leaves, creepers and shrubs
  • From consuming fish
  • From eating sand and mud
  • From using excessive salt

Pregnancy related problems like miscarriage can also lead to shotha. Also, if after delivery proper care is not provided to the mother, that too can lead to shotha.3

Improper administration of Ayurvedic oleation therapy, fomentation therapy, emesis therapy, purgation therapy, herbal enema, oil enema and nasya may lead to inflammation.

Following an improper diet after panchakarma, the Ayurvedic detoxification process, can lead to inflammation.

Emaciation due to vomiting, intestinal problems, diarrhea, diseases related to the respiratory system, cough, anemia, abdominal problems, fever, menorrhagia, fistula in ano and piles may also cause inflammation.

Due to kushta (various skin diseases according to Ayurveda), itching, boils and abscess may occur.

Suppression of the natural urges like vomiting, sneezing, urine and stool can cause inflammation.

When a person becomes emaciated due to panchakarma therapies, chronic diseases or fasting and suddenly starts eating very heavy, hard to digest, sour and salty food, inflammation can occur.4

These are the general causes behind shotha roga, localized inflammatory conditions. 

Ayurvedic Remedies For Hyperpigmentation

Kumkumadi Oil

Massage with this oil on the face may be helpful in soothing hyperpigmented skin (vyanga, nyasha and neelika).

Use of this oil makes the face appear clean, clear and beautiful like a full moon.5

Manjishtadi Oil

Local application of manjishtadi tailam is useful for neelika and vyanga. The oil makes the face healthy and happy. It is also moisturizing and so it may be helpful in delaying wrinkles.

It is said in the ancient texts that use of manjishtadi taila for seven consecutive days makes the face glow like gold.6

Cannabis Leaf + Vidhari Paste

Take the leaves of bhaang or Cannabis sativa, the root of vidhari or Argyreia speciosa and the root of sheesham or Dalbergia sissoo. Make a paste of all three and apply over the affected area. This is useful in problems like nyasha and vyanga.7

Ankur + Red Lentil Powder Paste

Take ankur, the tender buds of the vata tree (Ficus bengalensis) and masoor daal or red lentils and grind together. Make a paste and apply locally for problems like vyanga.8

Manjistha Honey Paste

Take manjishtha powder (Rubia cordifolia) and add honey to form a paste. Local application of this paste is useful for vyanga.9

Arjuna Formula Paste

Take the bark of the arjuna tree (Terminalia arjuna), along with manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia) and arusa (Adhatoda vasica) in equal amounts. Make a powder of all three and add honey to form a paste.

Local application of this paste in helpful in vyanga.10

Nutmeg  Paste

Take jatiphala (nutmeg) powder, botanical name Myristica fragrans, and make a paste.

Local application of this paste may be helpful in vyanga and neelika.11

Tumeric Milk Paste

Take milk of the madar plant (Calotropis procera) or cow’s milk and add turmeric powder to it. Apply this paste over the face. This remedy may be useful in hyperpigmentation.12

Red Lentil, Milk + Ghee Paste

Take masoor or red lentils and grind it with milk to form a paste. Add ghrita, clarified butter.

Local application of this paste makes the face clean and clear in seven days, like a lotus flower.13

READ MORE: Manjistha For Skin, Uses, Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects

References

  1. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga nidanam:41-43, page no.273, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  2. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sthana, 18/25, page no. 278 by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
  3. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sthana, 18/4, page no.274, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
  4. Charak Samhita, Sutra Sathan, 18/6, page no. 275, by Aacharya Vidyadhar Shukla and Professor Ravidutt, Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan, 2017.
  5. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:1-6, page no.283, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  6. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:1-3, page no.283, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  7. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:6, page no.282, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  8. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:7, page no.282, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  9. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:7, page no.282, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  10. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:8, page no.282, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  11. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:12, page no.283, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  12. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:13, page no.283, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.
  13. Yoga Ratnakara with Hindi commentary, uttra ardhagata, kshudra roga chikitsa:14, page no.283, by Vaidya Laksmipati Shastri, Chaukhambha Prakashan, Varanasi, 2017.

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Dr. Alka Sharma, BAMS is an Ayurvedic practitioner and an avid learner of the field. She graduated with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, Punjab in India. She has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine and doing related work for the last six years. She works as an independent consultant in Ayurveda through online consultancy services. She has a personal app on the Google play store where she consults patients on their health problems following the Ayurveda medical sciences. She additionally has a Masters degree in Business Administration for Health Sciences from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), India.

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