Many women are dreaming to have beautiful and healthy skin and currently there are many beauty clinics that offer various treatments. People have two major contrasting skin colors, black and white. Skin as the outer layer of our body has many problems and most of people with brighter skin often complain about their reddish or purplish marks. In dermatology, those kinds of spots are called as macules. Macules are a condition where your skin turns red like freckles.
Macules can also happen to dark skin, except those same reddish spots will look a good deal darker, deep brown or completely black or dozens of shades in between, it is particularly true after they heal. Americans of African ancestry usually have more concern about these dark macules caused by acne rather than the acne itself. These dark spots are called PIP (postinflammatory pigmentation or postinflammatory hyperpigmentation).
How Dark Spots Are Formed?
Here is a short explanation of how PIP is formed. It is limited to the skin area in which inflammation has developed previously. It is a kind of “footprints” or telltale signs of where the “first battle” took place. PIP can be caused by a cut, rash, burn, or the aftermath of a healed acne lesion.
These “footprints” can disappear eventually, but they usually outlast the original inflamed acne lesions, however sometimes it takes a few months or even several years to fade away completely.
PIP is divided into two types, which appear when skin inflammation happens:
1. Epidermal Hypermelanosis
The highly-active melanocytes respond by transferring their melanin pigments (in small granules) to the nearby keratinocytes, which are one of the epidermal cells. The stimulation increases and melanin granules transfer causes epidermal hypermelanosis. As the result, the skin gets darker although the pigmentation isn’t too intense. In this condition, PIP responds quite well to many topical bleaching cream products, which help to make it disappears faster. This is because most of melanin pigments are in the top layer of the skin (epidermis) which allows better treatment.
2. Dermal Melanosis
This type of PIP is quite difficult to treat and may never completely disappear. Unless the pigment is very deep, PIP will improve over time. It really needs a good deal of extra patience. The dermal melanosis happens when inflammation attacks the basal cell layer, which causes the release of melanin pigments and subsequently they are “dropped” deeper into the dermis, as the result, those pigments are trapped by scavenger white cells (macrophages).
It takes some time for dark spots to fade. PIP treatment is often a prolonged and difficult process that may require between six and twelve months to achieve good depigmentation results.
Because these dark spots could take time to disappear or often longer than expected, it’s important to perform actions to avoid their emergence. It can be stopped with early treatment. You need to be aware of things that can possibly give you greater risk of having PIP, such as:
a. Squeezing, picking or rubbing your acne
b. Using OTC toners, alcohol-based products and also prescribed acne products that may irritate and dry your skin and cause PIP
c. Excessive washing using harsh soaps
d. Scrubbing with buff puffs
e. Cosmetic products that might worsen your skin and acne problems
f. Shaving your beard may wreak havoc with your facial skin condition, as it increases the possibility of PIP development
The same medications that are used to treat acne for Caucasian skin can also used to treat people with different skin color. One way to treat acne and the dark spot is by OTC Medication.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are parts of Over-the-counter (OTC) medications. They might be an excellent approach if your acne is mild and your body or skin is able to tolerate these products. But they can be quite irritating for some people due to the presence of benzoyl peroxide. If your skin is able to tolerate it and you see improvement with your acne, then stick with it. However, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be irritating and produce whitish scales on dark skin. These scales are often referred to as to look “ashy.” The appearance of the scales is difficult for some people to tolerate. (Light skin or white skin gets ashy appearance too).
If benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid is causing ‘ashy’ appearance and scales, apply a light non-oily moisturizer like Olay Active Hydrating Beauty Fluid or Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. If you have dark spots, you can use a moisturizer that contains a sunscreen such as Purpose Moisturizer SPF 15. Alternatively, you may use a heavier, greasier moisturizer. If you have a sensitive skin, try to use the lower strength (like 2.5 percent water-based benzoyl peroxide).
Repeat treatment every two days, then increase to once a day, as you’re able to tolerate the product. Similarly, if your skin gets too ashy or is irritated from salicylic acid products that have a mild peeling activity, try using lower than the 1 percent concentration and try applying the medications on an alternate-day basis.
For PIP spots, look for over-the-counter preparations that contain 1 to 2 percent hydroquinone, a chemical that’s traditionally been the main component for the treatment of PIP. Esoterica, Porcelana, Black Opal and Ambi are companies that manufactured over-the-counter hydroquinone-containing creams and gels. These products are applied as thin layer on the affected areas once or twice a day. There are over-the-counter products that contain 10 percent of hydroquinone or higher that are available in many other countries, particularly within Africa and Asia, and some of them have found their way (illegally) into “health” stores in the United States — mostly in ethnic neighborhoods within big cities. These high concentrations actually bring the risk of a darkening reaction known as ochronosis.
Unfortunately, typical kitchens have plenty of ingredients that can be used to treat dark spots. Before deciding to seek expensive treatment, you should know that there are safer and cheaper ways to eliminate dark spots.
Limes, lemons and oranges are packed with Vitamin C, a good natural bleaching agent. Among citrus fruits, lemon is considered to be the best remedy to eliminate dark spots. You can directly apply on the affected spot, using a dab of cotton or clean fingers. The citric acid will also help to bleach dark spots.
Honey and Milk
Both are excellent remedies to treat facial dark spots. It is a good idea to choose sour milk as the lactic acid exhibits gentle peeling effects, which can lighten dark spots without irritating your skin. On the other hand, honey has a number of renewing properties.
Parsley juice can be mixed with red currant, orange and lemon juices, which can be applied along with moisturizing cream. This mixture may also work well with brown spots and freckles.