Although a lot of us dream of flawless skin, the truth is that most people, regardless of ethnicity and skin color, have pigment blemishes on their skin. The discolored small or large patches might be considered aesthetically unappealing and most people would like to get rid of these spots. To understand how to lighten your blemishes you need to understand that these spots or patches are nothing more than accumulation of melanin.
What is melanin?
Melanin is the substance that gives color to your skin. Ideally, melanin concentration should be even across the entire expanse of your skin but this is seldom the case. Various environmental, dietary, hereditary and age factors contribute towards the formation of these spots and blemishes. These lesions or spots have different names depending on the cause. Melasma, hyperpigmentation, freckles are some of the various names that refer to these blemishes.
How do I rid myself of these spots?
Any dermatologist will tell you that pigment problems are extremely difficult to get rid of. But there is hope. There have been various advances in the field of pigment research and there are a number of remedies that can effectively remove the excess pigment and prevent the re-accumulation of melanin on the skin.
Are all pigment problems basically the same? Can I use the same treatment for various pigment problems?
There are several ways to get rid of spots or patches of hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation could be hormonal in nature like melasma, dark underarms, dark skin patches on the neck or inner thigh area and age spots. Once these spots or patches of dark skin have lightened, you will need to continue some sort of maintenance regimen due to the hormonal nature of the problem. Stopping treatment as soon as these spots have disappeared will cause them to reoccur in a few months. There are certain other kinds of spots or patchy skin caused by trauma to the skin by insect bites, shaving, acne or repeated pressure to certain areas of skin. These patches or spots once lightened usually don’t return.
What are the various ways I can use to get rid of these blemishes?
There are three ways to get rid of these blemishes.
Mechanical: Mechanical methods work best when the pigmentation is recent and superficial. Those who don’t exfoliate their skin on a regular basis will also see good results. There are various derma-abrasion kits available in your local pharmacy that could help gently exfoliate the area. Micro-derma abrasion cloths are also a good option as they remove dead skin cells very gently. Exfoliating encourages skin cell turnover ensuring that fresher and more even toned skin surfaces. However, one needs to be careful when exfoliating because over exfoliation or over zealous use of mechanical methods can actually increase the darkness of blemishes.
Skin peels: Peels work to invisibly remove the “glue” that holds the surface skin together and encourages exfoliation without any need for mechanical interference. Peels used to be administered at a doctor’s office and some strong peels are still only available to medical or aesthetic specialists. Nowadays there are various kinds of peels available online and even at low concentrations over the counter. The right choice of peel depend on the nature of the problem, the depth of pigmentation and the general health of the skin. Certain peels can go as deep as the dermis (deepest layer of the skin) to lighten skin from the inside out. Certain peels along with their exfoliating capabilities also target abnormal pigment cells and work to uniform skin tone.
Skin Lightening Agents: Skin lightening agents penetrate the skin to destroy extra melanin and give skin an appearance of being even toned. There are various skin lightening agents identified by scientists and herbalists and many of them work very well on skin blemishes. Different skin whitening agents have different modes of action. Some work to destroy melanin, some work to prevent the transfer of melanin from the deepest layer of the skin to the surface, still others interfere with the actual production of melanin. There are a few chemical agents actually destroy the melanin creating cells called melanocytes. These should never be used for skin blemishes unless one has depigmentation problems. The best methods entail the use of herbal or natural skin lighteners that are used in a combination so as to affect the whole production cycle of melanin.
A combination of the right peel or exfoliation combined with the right combination of skin lightening agents can effectively lighten even the toughest pigment spots.