Why Do Some People Have Darker Skin Around Their Mouths?
The human complexion is more complicated and sensitive than people realize. Most of us only think about common issues like acne and sunburns that can temporarily disrupt our appearance. Sometimes, these blemishes are painful but can be addressed with the right products and lifestyle adjustments. Unfortunately, not all blemishes are straightforward, and certain complexion issues can arise without explanation.
While acne, sunburns, wrinkles, and other blemishes have logical causes, others are not well understood by the general public. Some blemishes are more noticeable and produce strange symptoms that make finding pride in your complexion difficult. While appearance is not everything, dealing with a seemingly permanent blemish can damage one's self-esteem, especially if you do not know why it is happening.
One of the more frustrating issues with complexion is when some parts of your skin do not match the rest. Tone issues are rare but can happen, with some people experiencing discoloration around the mouth. The appearance of dark skin around your mouth can be disconcerting since there is seldom a warning sign to indicate why it happened or what caused it.
The good news is that you are not alone, but the bad news is that the solution might not be forthcoming. If you are one of the people experiencing darker skin around your mouth compared to the rest of your complexion, you likely have one question: why is this happening?
Why is the Skin Around Your Mouth Darker?
The good news about this issue is that it has a name and is recognized in dermatology as a well-known problem. If you notice the skin around your mouth (or anywhere else) is darker than the rest of your complexion, it is likely because you have hyperpigmentation. Believe it or not, this is not a disease or foreign contaminant causing discoloration but a malfunction with a natural and essential bodily function.
The human body naturally produces a group of pigments called melanin in response to ultraviolet radiation. Essentially, exposure to the sun forces your body to produce melanin to shield you from harmful radiation. These pigments are responsible for the bronzing of skin that we commonly call a "suntan." While most people view tans as a pleasant cosmetic adjustment to their complexion, it is actually your body trying to prevent the sun's radiation from damaging your body.
The same compound was responsible for the divergent skin tones between Caucasians and racial demographics with naturally dark skin (Africans, Arabs, Israelis, etc.). These racial groups have ancestry that hails from continents where the sun and the UV radiation it casts are more powerful. As a result, evolution caused melanin production to accelerate to offer long-term protection from solar radiation.
This evolutionary response allowed these demographics to thrive in their countries of origin, but we all share the same function. Unfortunately, biology is not perfect, and the bodily functions responsible for melanin production can malfunction and produce the pigments when there is no need.
When this occurs, it can cause blotches of dark skin to manifest in contrast to your normal complexion. This is called hyperpigmentation, so named because "hyper" refers to the excess production of the pigments. While the symptoms are more obvious on fair complexions, they can affect any skin tone and cause inconsistencies across your body. Hyperpigmentation normally occurs on one part of the body but has been known to spread across your entire body, making it more difficult to deal with.
Typically, the discoloration manifests as brown, black, gray, red, or pink spots or patches. This can contrast with the rest of your skin tone depending on your complexion and racial background.
Knowing that hyperpigmentation exists can make a huge difference in how you respond to the appearance of dark patches around your mouth. Unfortunately, it does not necessarily answer why the condition is affecting you. Therefore, we must ask the question: what causes hyperpigmentation?
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
While hyperpigmentation might seem mysterious, it has a fairly rational explanation. Unfortunately, knowing that the pigments are being overproduced does not alleviate the concerns about what caused the condition. The problem is that hyperpigmentation has multiple potential causes that might explain why you are suddenly dealing with the condition. The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is exposure to the sun, which triggers our body's melanin production in self-defense.
While exposure to sunlight is important to our physical and mental health, overexposure can cause complications with the fragile balance of the human body. Sun exposure can strain our bodies and condition them to produce melanin regardless of sun exposure. This has led to hyperpigmentation marks being nicknamed "sunspots," though they are also called "age spots" and "liver spots." If you spend significant time in the sun, your chances of developing hyperpigmentation increase.
Other causes of hyperpigmentation are equally common, though some diseases can cause hyperpigmentation as a symptom. Ultimately, the cause of your hyperpigmentation depends on what type you have:
- Melasma: Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that is believed to be caused by hormonal imbalances in the body. This is most commonly observed in pregnant women who develop dark patches due to their hormones fluctuating while the child gestates. Melasma usually manifests on the stomach and face but can appear elsewhere on the body.
- Sunspots: Sunspots refer to the solar exposure we mentioned before. Because of how this type of hyperpigmentation is created, it usually only appears on body parts regularly exposed to sunlight (hands, face, arms, etc.).
- Post-Inflammatory: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by injuries or inflammation of the skin. If you dealt with acne growing up, you might have noticed skin discoloration during a particularly bad breakout. This is because the inflammation caused by acne can cause melanin production where the pimple was on your skin. Because these injuries can occur anywhere on the body, this hyperpigmentation can reach areas the other 2 normally do not.
The different causes of hyperpigmentation can make it difficult to identify where your particular issue came from. Fortunately, a simple recollection of your activities leading up to the initial symptoms can help you identify your hyperpigmentation type.
It is also worth noting that certain people are at higher risk of hyperpigmentation than others, primarily those who spend a lot of time outdoors in direct sunlight. However, there are a few lesser-known risk factors that can contribute to hyperpigmentation:
- Individuals who use oral contraceptives or are pregnant have a higher risk for melasma.
- Individuals with darker skin types are more susceptible to pigmentation changes than those with fairer skin types.
- Individuals who take medication that increases sensitivity to sunlight are more likely to experience exaggerated effects from UV radiation.
- Individuals who suffer a superficial burn injury or similar trauma to the skin might experience melanin overproduction while the afflicted area heals.
Essentially, hormonal changes and exposure to certain environments enhance the odds of developing hyperpigmentation. If you are unsure about the cause of your hyperpigmentation, you might have to consult a dermatologist. A licensed doctor can biopsy the affected skin to determine what is causing your hyperpigmentation. This is sometimes the only option if you cannot determine what triggered your symptoms and need more definitive proof. This is especially important for people with hyperpigmentation caused by an underlying disease or illness.
A rare endocrine issue (Addison's disease) can cause hyperpigmentation because of its effect on your hormones. The problem is that the hyperpigmentation caused by Addison's disease manifests in the same areas as sunspots, misleading the patient to believe their symptoms were caused by sun exposure. Other body parts are affected, but the most noticeable hyperpigmentation symptoms can cause you to believe they are sunspots unless a doctor can prove the disease is responsible.
While this might not be the best news, it can help you mitigate the condition until proper treatment can be enacted. This brings us to the next question that anyone with hyperpigmentation is likely asking: how can the condition be reversed?
Can Hyperpigmentation Be Reversed?
Living the rest of your life with dark marks contrasting your complexion around your mouth or anywhere else on your body is hardly ideal. Like with any condition, one of the main concerns people have is whether it can be reversed so they can return to how things were before. Fortunately, hyperpigmentation can be reversed and, often, does not require specialized treatment to fix.
Commonly, cases of hyperpigmentation fade with time, so your skin will likely return to normal on its own. Unfortunately, the process is usually lengthy, and the marks could take weeks or months to fade completely. So, asking whether hyperpigmentation can be reversed is more commonly phrased as "Can it be treated?" Once again, the answer is positive since multiple treatments are designed to lessen hyperpigmentation's effects.
Certain compounds can be used as supplements that have beneficial effects on hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C is one of the most effective tools to treat hyperpigmentation. As cliché as it sounds, vitamin C is extremely good for you and provides several nutritional benefits that improve physical health. You might not have heard that it also provides certain cosmetic benefits that make it a viable tool against skin discoloration.
Vitamin C is a major source of antioxidants (compounds that prevent and reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals). Antioxidants have become extremely popular in modern society due to their effect on our bodies. One of the main issues antioxidants address is inflammation, which, as we mentioned, is a major cause of hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C has been linked to inhibiting melanin production and lightening skin discoloration to treat issues like hyperpigmentation. This effect can be harnessed as a natural supplement to treat hyperpigmentation and make the condition less severe. Vitamin C as a treatment for hyperpigmentation is not a well-known concept, but it can be a major boon for people dealing with the condition.
That said, vitamin C is not the only substance with the antioxidants needed to counter the symptoms of hyperpigmentation. Green tea contains a similar concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols that can help reduce the discoloration caused by hyperpigmentation.
One study on Japanese women with hyperpigmentation used green tea and coffee to treat their symptoms. The study revealed that the nutrients in green tea reduced discoloration and improved their complexion. Natural substances like green tea and vitamin C are highly effective tools for cases of hyperpigmentation where standard issues cause the symptoms. The problem is that more serious underlying issues cause some cases, and if you are one of those people who has the more serious version, these tools might be insufficient.
You might be prescribed pharmaceutical-grade medication to treat the symptoms in these cases since the underlying issue is too severe for supplements to fix. Fortunately, this is rare, and your hyperpigmentation can usually be healed with time and natural compounds. The trick is finding a reliable source of supplements that focus on skincare.
Finding the Right Blend
Hyperpigmentation is more common than we might like, and it can impact your complexion and confidence since the marks are difficult to hide. Despite the commonality of hyperpigmentation, the condition is seldom permanent and can be treated with time and supplements in most cases. Compounds like vitamin C and green tea can provide a natural solution that reduces discoloration and allows you to reclaim your complexion. The problem is that finding these compounds in a form that focuses on skincare can be challenging.
We at Teami have dedicated ourselves to providing natural solutions to improve health and beauty. Our mission is to find as many natural resources as possible to address the issues plaguing modern cosmetics. Hyperpigmentation is one of our greatest concerns, and we have cultivated a few products that can reduce the symptoms.
Our Bright, Dark Spot Serum is a special product designed to reduce skin discoloration using vitamin C and other compounds. We also have our Green Tea Facial Scrub, which can yield similar benefits using the green tea leaves used to make it. We encourage you to visit our website and assess our products more closely so you can reclaim your complexion. After all, finding the right blend is a Teami effort.
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