Have you noticed discolored skin patches in certain parts of your body? External damages caused to the skin can affect melanin synthesis in the body resulting in discoloration.
Ayurveda proposes ancient remedies that can block excess tyrosinase activity (for hyperpigmentation) or aid the generation of melanocytes (for hypopigmentation) to cure skin discolorations.
Read on to know what conditions can cause skin discoloration and the best Ayurvedic and home remedies to cure them.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Balancing pitta may prevent hyperpigmentation. Herbs like Yashtimadhu, Kesar, Brahmi, Manjishtha, Lodhra, Masoor, and Neem, when taken internally or applied externally can help heal skin discoloration”
-Dr. Zeel, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix.
- What Is Skin Discoloration?
- Types Of Skin Discoloration
- What Are The Conditions That Cause Skin Discoloration?
- Potential Causes Of Discolored Skin Patches
- Can Skin Darkening Be Reversed?
- How To Get Rid Of Skin Discoloration?
- How To Prevent Skin Discoloration?
- When To Consult Your Dermatologist?
- Frequently Asked Questions On Skin Discoloration
What Is Skin Discoloration?
Melanin, a pigment produced by melanocytes, is responsible for your unique skin colour. Skin discoloration occurs when melanin synthesis is affected by injury or medical conditions. Hyperactivity of melanocytes may cause dark patches to appear on your skin. Whereas your skin can lose its colour in the affected areas due to hypoactivity of melanocytes.
According to Ayurveda, skin discoloration occurs when Bhrajaka Pitta is aggravated. This sub-dosha of pitta regulates body temperature and pigmentation. Its imbalance can affect pigment production in the dermis, leading to skin discoloration.
“Balancing pitta may prevent hyperpigmentation. As per Ayurveda, hormones are metabolic fires. Hormonal imbalance, sun exposure and inflammation are the three common causes of hyperpigmentation, which cause pitta disarray”, says Dr. Zeel.
Types Of Skin Discoloration
This occurs when certain skin conditions or external factors stimulate your melanocytes into over-producing melanin. Localised hyperpigmentation can cause affected areas to appear darker due to the accumulation of the pigment. In Ayurveda, hyperpigmentation is referred to as ‘Vyanga’ and is treated with skin lightening and blood purifying herbs.
Here, melanocytes produce low amounts of melanin. Hypopigmentation can affect the whole body leading to complete loss of skin colour or be localised, causing light coloured patches in the affected areas. As per Ayurveda, hypopigmentation or ‘Shweta Kushta’ occurs when an unstable Bhrajaka Pitta Dosha vitiates the ‘Medho Dhatu’ (fat tissues).
What Are The Conditions That Cause Skin Discoloration?
1. Sun Tan
Exposure to harsh UV rays of the sun stimulates your melanocytes to release preformed melanin or synthesize new melanin to protect the skin. Melanin reflects and absorbs UV rays to prevent skin cell damage. Suntan is often temporary and can be cured with simple home and Ayurvedic remedies.
Melasma is often triggered by hormonal imbalances especially in women during pregnancy. It causes dark brown patches on the face and other parts of the body.
3. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
When injuries or burns causing tissue damage starts to heal, melanocytes at the site of injury can get stimulated by inflammatory mediators, causing excess melanin release. This may lead to the development of a dark patch once the injury heals. Scars from acne, impetigo and chronic inflammatory skin conditions like atopic dermatitis all fall in this category.
Medically termed as ephelides, freckles usually affect people with lighter skin tones. With sun exposure being the main cause behind this pigmentary disorder, tiny brown spots appear on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun.
5. Age Spots
With age, your melanocytes decrease by about 10 to 20% every decade. The existing melanocytes grow in size and show irregular activity resulting in skin discoloration. This is more common in photoaged skin which has suffered damage from constant sun exposure.
In this congenital hypopigmentation disorder, the body lacks melanin. People with albinism have a special gene that interferes with the synthesis and distribution of melanin. This makes their skin vulnerable to photo damage and skin cancer.
2. Post Inflammatory Hypopigmentation
Inflammatory mediators during a subcutaneous injury can inhibit melanocyte activity at the site of injury. This can lead to the formation of white or light coloured patches at the wound site.
This auto-immune disease attacks healthy melanocytes thereby reducing their number or their ability to produce melanin. Vitiligo  leads to hypopigmented patches on the face, hands, and the folds of the skin.
4. Congenital Piebaldism
This genetic disorder causes the complete absence of melanocytes at the affected sites. The most striking characteristic of congenital piebaldism  is the presence of a white forelock along with other hypopigmented patches.
5. Menkes Syndrome
This genetic disorder affects copper absorption and distribution in the body. This also affects the enzyme tyrosinase that plays an important part in melanin synthesis resulting in hypopigmented patches on the skin.
A serious bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae bacteria, leprosy affects the skin and nerves. It causes numbness and skin discoloration in the affected areas.
7. Pityriasis Alba
8. Halo Nevus
This is characterised by a hypopigmented ring (halo) around a mole on the skin. It often disappears on its own without treatment.
9. Chemical Leukoderma
Also known as contact hypopigmentation, this occurs when the skin is exposed to certain harsh chemicals like aromatic derivatives of phenols and catechols. Certain hair dyes, leathers and bindi stickers can also cause skin discoloration.
10. Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis
This condition is often triggered by age, sun exposure or a decrease in pigment-producing cells. It causes tiny whitish discoloured patches on the skin.
According to a WHO study, over 40% dark-skinned women bleach their skin for a fairer complexion. Many of these women suffer from bleach-induced skin discoloration and vitiligo.
Potential Causes Of Discolored Skin Patches
- Sun Exposure
- Tissue Damage And Inflammation
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Nutrition Deficiency
- Hormone Fluctuations
- Chemical Exposures
- Certain Medications
Can Skin Darkening Be Reversed?
Minor skin darkening at superficial levels often fades on its own with new skin generation. This may take about 3 to 4 weeks. However, for reversing skin darkening from severe injuries, burns or chronic inflammatory disorders, Ayurvedic or cosmetic treatments may be required.
How To Get Rid Of Skin Discoloration?
1. From Acne
A. Triphala, Red Sandalwood & Milk
Packed with antioxidants, triphala aids in skin regeneration. Red sandalwood and milk lighten hyperpigmentation from acne. Mix all ingredients to make a pack and apply on the affected areas. Wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.
B. Jackfruit, Milk & Honey
Jackfruit  is a potent tyrosinase blocker. Blend young leaves of jackfruit, its pods and seeds and make a paste by adding milk to it. Add 1-2 teaspoons of honey to the mixture and apply on the acne scars. Wash off after 20- 30 minutes.
2. Around The Mouth, Lips & Chin
A. Mustard Oil
Apply mustard oil twice daily to remove discolored patches around the mouth, lips and chin. You can wash it off after an hour of application or leave it on as mustard oil is safe for an overnight treatment.
B. Shatavari, Yashtimadhu And Aloe Vera
Mix shatavari and yashtimadhu powders in equal quantities and add aloe vera gel to make a paste. Apply on the pigmented areas on your face and wash off after half an hour.
3. In The Underarms
A. Potato juice
Cut a slice of potato and rub it on the darkened skin 2 to 3 times a day. Wash off after an hour.
B. Onion Juice
Mash a white or red onion and extract its juice. Apply twice daily to get rid of skin discoloration in your underarms. This is a Korean beauty secret for skin brightening.
4. From Psoriasis
A. Bark Of Arjuna
Arjuna twak or the bark of the arjuna tree possesses skin-lightening properties that work on hyperpigmentation caused by psoriasis. It can also be used for removing scars left behind by chronic inflammatory skin conditions like eczema. Mix arjun twak powder with milk and apply on the affected areas.
B. Ginger, Turmeric & Ghee
Both ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory. Turmeric has antiseptic and skin brightening properties which quickly act on skin discoloration from psoriasis. Make a paste with raw turmeric, ginger and add ghee to it. Apply twice daily for half an hour till the dark patches are healed.
5. From Sun Exposure
A. Aloe Vera Gel
Applying fresh aloe vera gel on sun-tanned skin can quickly remove skin pigmentation and aid skin healing. It is also a great sun blocker and can be used as a natural sunscreen.
B. Papaya, Lemon Juice & Honey
Mash ripe papaya, add lemon juice and honey and apply on sun-tanned skin. Wash off after half an hour. Repeat 2 to 3 times a week till your skin regains its natural tone.
6. Post Inflammation, Injury Or Burns
A. Linseed Oil & Honey
Linseed oil is a widely used treatment for skin burns  and injuries in Ayurvedic medicine. Mix linseed oil and honey in equal parts and apply twice daily to remove skin discoloration from injuries and burns.
B. Blackcurrant Leaf & Mustard/ Sesame Oil
To heal skin discoloration from burns, inflammation and tissue damage, apply a paste of blackcurrant leaves and mustard/sesame oil. Regular application can quicken new skin generation and fade the pigmented patches.
7. From Scars
A. Tender Coconut Water
Packed with essential vitamins, tender coconut water can remove skin discoloration from scars. Soak a cotton ball with tender coconut water and cleanse the affected areas twice daily.
B. Rosehip Oil
Apply rosehip oil regularly to the affected areas to fade skin pigmentation from scars.
8. On The Legs
Often people suffering from conditions that hinder blood circulation in the legs such as Venous Stasis Dermatitis, may observe skin discolorations. The following remedies can be effective.
A. Barley Or Oatmeal Scrub
Prepare a scrub with barley or colloidal oatmeal and milk. Gently exfoliate the affected areas once daily. This will help reduce the appearance of the discolored patches.
B. Herbal Oil Massage
Massage the discolored areas with castor/ sesame/ turmeric oil twice daily. This will help reduce skin darkening and improve blood circulation in the lower legs.
9. On The Face
A. Turmeric, Saffron, Milk, Honey
Prepare an Ayurvedic lepa (face pack) by mixing the above ingredients. Apply it on the discolored areas on your face and wash off with lukewarm water after half an hour. Repeat 3 to 4 times a week till the dark patches disappear.
B. Yashtimadhu, Jatiphala & Honey
Blend yashtimadhu and jatiphala together and add honey to make a paste. Apply this on the darkened patches on your face and leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes before washing off.
10. Discoloration During Pregnancy
The most common condition causing skin discoloration during pregnancy is melasma. Melasma is caused by hormone fluctuations in the body. The below herbal remedies clarify your skin and also help balance your hormones to prevent skin darkening.
Ashwagandha helps balance hormone fluctuations in your body. Consuming it daily with lukewarm water or milk can help reduce skin discolorations during pregnancy. However, it is advisable to consult your Ayurvedic doctor for the right dosage and consumption method as per your Prakriti (body constitution).
Lodhra is widely used in Ayurveda for its melanogenesis inhibiting properties. Regular application with milk/ honey or lukewarm water can reduce skin discoloration during pregnancy.
11. From Infections And Diseases
A. Anantmool, Triphala & Ghee
This antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, skin healing Ayurvedic lepa prevents skin discoloration, boosts skin barrier function and prevents further spread of the infection. Mix the three and apply on discolored skin. Leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off.
B. Neem, Sariva & Turmeric
Prepare a pack by blending raw turmeric, neem leaves and sariva powder together. Add coconut oil to make a paste and apply on the discoloured skin. Wash off after 30 minutes. Repeat as frequently as required.
“Herbs like Yashtimadhu, Kesar, Brahmi, Manjishtha, Lodhra, Masoor, Neem, when taken internally or applied externally can help heal skin discoloration. Amla, lemons, other citrus fruits and fruits like mango, grapes etc. are also known to restore healthy skin colour”, adds Dr. Zeel.
12. Other Treatments For Skin Discoloration
A. Topical Corticosteroids
Topical corticosteroids such as Hydrocortisone are often prescribed to treat skin discolorations from conditions like Vitiligo. These medicines help to suppress immune dysfunctions. However, long-term use can result in skin thinning.
Retinoid creams are a type of Vitamin A that increases your cell turnover rate. This helps remove the pigmented skin layers and reverse skin discoloration.
C. Chemical Peeling
This cosmetic procedure uses glycolic, salicylic or similar acids to exfoliate the damaged skin layers. It is often prescribed as a treatment for severe hyperpigmentation.
13. Ayurvedic Foods To Treat Skin Discoloration
Including the following superfoods and spices in your daily diet can help heal skin discolorations.
B. Nigella Seeds
E. Foods rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and Vitamin E
F. Foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids and zinc
J. Foods rich in Vitamin B12.
Vedix Tip: Avoid consuming contradictory foods such as citrus fruits and milk, two high protein sources, or fish and curd. These aggravate your doshas and can cause skin discolorations.
How To Prevent Skin Discoloration?
1. Protect your skin from sun exposure. Always apply sunscreen while stepping outside.
2. Avoid harsh skincare products, bleaches or skin lightening creams.
3. Keep yourself hydrated and moisturize your skin daily.
4. Treat acne, injuries or inflammatory conditions immediately to prevent skin discolorations.
5. Avoid smoking.
6. Avoid foods that disturb the hormonal balance in your body.
When To Consult Your Dermatologist?
Consult your dermatologist if your discolored patches spread rapidly, reoccur or refuse to fade despite the natural treatments mentioned in this article.
Frequently Asked Questions On Skin Discoloration
1. Is Skin Discoloration A Disease?
Skin discoloration is harmless and not a disease. It might be caused by a skin condition, infection, or injury.
2. How Long Does It Take For Skin Discoloration To Fade?
Simple skin discolorations such as tanning, minor wounds, or acne scars can fade within 3 to 4 weeks of treatment. However, discoloration due to a chronic or auto-immune disease may need long-term treatment.
3. What Hormone Causes Skin Discoloration During Pregnancy?
Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone along with hormones responsible in melanin synthesis can cause skin discolorations during pregnancy .
The Last Word
Your internal well-being is directly reflected through your skin health. Vitiation of your blood tissue and disruption of the fine balance of your doshas can lead to the accumulation of harmful toxins in your body causing skin discolorations.
To heal skin pigmentation, apply the remedies suggested. However, it is advisable to visit your Ayurvedic doctor for a complete understanding of your Prakriti (body constitution). This will help you choose the correct remedies for your condition and benefit your skin in the long run.Know Your Dosha Now
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