What is Hyperpigmentation?

Skin damages can happen to both men and women. Acne scars, sun damage, eczema, flare up’s; are all skin conditions. There is a skin condition wherein the skin is darkened or discolored, uneven, patchy; this is broadly termed as Hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation includes any discoloration due to overexposure of the sun, due to acne, skin rashes, eczema or any other skin condition. These skin conditions stimulate melanocytes, the pigment-making cells found in the skin. Thus they make a surplus of pigment and then abandon them all together into lower levels of skin where they do not belong.

What is Melasma?

Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation. It is also a discoloration of the skin which happens mostly due to exposure from the sun. Melasma is more commonly seen in women, especially women with darker skin tones. UV exposure is one reason for melasma but the more important factor is the hormonal imbalances and changes that a woman’s body goes through. Pregnancy hormones, oral contraceptive pills, estrogen dominance, menopause and other hormonal factors influence melasma. Melasma usually appears as symmetrical blotchy patches on the face. It is seen usually on the cheeks, forehead, chin, upper lip, bridge of the nose. But it can appear in other parts of the body as well which are more exposed to the sun.

How is hyperpigmentation different from Melasma?

While both are conditions resulting in discoloration of the skin, they do have certain differences.

Hyperpigmentation is usually caused by external forces like the sun’s rays or acne scars or cuts and bruises. Melasma, on the other hand, is usually due to internal causes like hormonal changes. In melasma there is an increase in the production of female hormones estrogen, melanin production goes overboard, resulting in dark patches on the skin.

The level of treatment depends on the intensity of darkness in hyperpigmentation. A small darkened area due to constant exposure to UV rays will be more difficult to treat than a small acne scar. But melasma is most difficult to treat because of the internal issues creating the damage to the skin.

A hyperpigmentation shows as random spots or patches anywhere on the face or neck; while melasma appears in blotchy but symmetrical patterns and generally shows on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and the upper lips.

Treatment for Hyperpigmentation and Melasma

While hyperpigmentation can be treated easily with many home remedies, melasma is rather difficult to treat. Treatments differ from one person to another and no tow people can follow the same cure. The basic treatment that you can undergo to minimize and treat hyperpigmentation is as follows:

  1. Use of sun protection creams and lotions; not only to cover your face but also to cover your neck, arms, and feet.  Use mineral or herbal sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and Ultraviolet rays protection. 
  2. Also, try and reduce your screen time. Infrared rays are as bad as the UV rays. Spending too much time in front of the smartphone, laptop, television, hot kitchen; all have an impact on your skin.
  3. Increase the intake of Vitamin C. Intake of Vitamin C as food or applied over the skin as home remedies will have a drastic effect on your skin color.
  4. Increase the intake of water and keeping yourself hydrated at all times will affect your skin in a better way.

Treatment in Ayurveda

Ayurveda treats Melasma as a typical Pitta imbalance disorder. In Ayurveda, Melasma and Hyperpigmentation can be correlated to Vyanga (Vi= Vitti and Anga=body parts).

It is a disease which shows itself on the face due to an imbalance of vata and pitta; resulting in painless, thin, bluish-blackish spots.

Ayurvedic treatment for hyperpigmentation

  • External application of ayurvedic creams and herbal packs
  • Facial massages with certain oils which help in removing skin diseases
  • Nasya karma or nasal drops which helps to let out toxins through the nose
  • A blood purification treatment by using oral medication

Ayurvedic treatment for melasma

  • Aloe vera application which significantly reduces the blemishes and dark spots on the skin
  • Orange peel or oatmeal application mixed with milk is a good skin exfoliation and can reduce and lighten skin marks in a few days.
  • Turmeric paste application. Turmeric plays a very important role in Ayurveda. It is a good antioxidant and has skin lightening properties. It can be applied through many routes like nasal, oral or external application.
  • Chandana is used to apply externally and cools down the burning sensations
  • Pitta pacifiers like godanti bhasma, kamaduga rasa, pravala bhasma are all used to treat high order melasma conditions.

External applications of oils like kumkumadi, eladi, kanaka are useful in the treatment of melasma.