Natural remedies for hyperpigmentation
Pigmentation of the skin such as sun spots and freckles occur when melanocytes (pigment producing cells) become overactive and result in patches of darker areas on the skin. The contraceptive pill and pregnancy which alter hormone levels can trigger patchy dark spots, most commonly noted around the upper lip and forehead. However, the most common cause of pigmentation is exposure to UV rays.
Summertime in Australia is truly a wonderful time with the beautiful beaches and outdoor lifestyle. We know that UV rays are both a major source of skin cancer and also the best source of vitamin D and so we need to find just the right balance of these two elements.
What you can do:
Laser treatment can be quite expensive and the results are not always permanent. Bleaching creams and steroids via prescription can be toxic and contain irritants. So if you’re looking for a natural holistic approach, combines some of these methods.
Minimise time in the sun during high UV days. Vitamin D levels are reached through regular incidental exposure to the sun and this only requires a few minutes outdoors each day during the summer. Use sunscreen daily to protect against sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant that can help minimise free radical damage caused by UV rays – acting like an internal sunscreen. To boost sun protection, beta-carotene in the diet together with sunscreen will provide best results. Top up on beta-carotene rich foods that have a yellow-orange or dark green colour.
Lemon juice contains citric acid which helps to fade pigmentation, brighten the skin and exfoliate. Simply take a slice of lemon and gently rub over the skin. Wait for 10 minutes and then rinse with water and repeat 2-3 times per week. Some people may be sensitive to the acid and should avoid it if irritation occurs.
Vitamin E – The antioxidant properties of vitamin E help to counter the effects of UV rays and also facilitate healing and renewal. For a concentrated dose use the vitamin E oil from a supplement capsule directly on the skin 2-3 times per week to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Turmeric Face Mask- Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant with a long history of use for treating skin imperfections and evening out skin tone. Use a tsp of turmeric powder in a natural face mask base (e.g. yoghurt) 2-3 times per week.
Fresh Aloe provides the best after-sun skin care with its cool, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe contains natural salicylic acid which helps to even out skin tone and is naturally high in vitamins, including A (beta-carotene), C and E. Look for a good quality brand that has a high content of actual Aloe, or better still, use straight from the plant!
Were the pigmentation is from hormonal imbalances, this is known as Melasama. Once the hormones are balanced this condition will normally resolve and the pigmentation will fade. Work with your healthcare practitioner or naturopath to address the underlying internal cause of the pigmentation.
Yours in natural health,
Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new dietary or exercise regime, before using any supplements and before making any changes to prescribed medications.