You have got great skin. But the one thing that stops you from stepping out naturally without any makeup is the dark skin around your mouth. Is this true? You have tried everything from DIYs to skin lightening creams. But the pigmentation around your mouth has remained your stubborn friend, right?
If you’ve been embarrassed about this, let us tell you that it is a much more common concern than you’d imagined. However, this kind of hyperpigmentation is harmless, and can be treated topically. We explain why these patches could have occurred and how you can get rid of them effectively.
Why Is The Skin Around My Mouth Dark?
The skin around your mouth can become dark due to hyperpigmentation , which is a very common cause. Hyperpigmentation is the excess production of melanin in certain areas of the skin, which make those patches darker than the rest of your skin.
Hyperpigmentation can affect people of all ages and different skin types. Pigmentation of the area around the mouth includes sunspots and melasma . Also known as chloasma, melasma usually affects pregnant women due to hormonal changes.
2. Weather Conditions
Sun exposure and darkening of the skin due to a burn or any other injury can also cause dark patches around the lips. In very cold weather, if you lick your lips and the area around it too often, it can discolour the skin and make it look darker.
There are certain medicines that can cause pigmentation, which may also affect the area around the mouth. These include tricyclic antidepressants  and anti-malaria  medication. Chemicals present in certain ointments can also cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
Addison’s disease  and haemochromatosis  are more serious causes of pigmentation. Addison’s disease can cause dark patches in the folds of the skin, joints like knees and elbows, the area around the lips and the inside of the cheeks; toes and knuckles.
How Do You Get Rid Of Hyperpigmentation Around The Mouth?
If you exfoliate the area around your mouth regularly with a gentle exfoliator, it can remove dead cells and help to lighten the skin. Opt for a chemical exfoliant as it will not scrape the skin which in turn may worsen the condition.
2. OTC Skin-Brightening Creams
Skin brightening creams can be effective in reducing the dark area around the mouth. Look for ingredients such as glabridin  (a licorice extract), kojic acid , vitamin C, grape seed extract , azelaic acid , arbutin , curcumin or niacinamide . These block the production of tyrosinase which is needed by the skin to make melanin. Apply as directed on the pack.
Word Of Caution:
If you have Celiac disease or an allergy to gluten, avoid products containing azelaic acid derived from wheat. People with sensitive skin should avoid products with kojic acid.
3. Medically Prescribed Ointments
If other remedies have not worked, consult a dermatologist. He or she may prescribe an ointment containing hydroquinone. This drug restricts the cells that make the pigment and slow down tyrosinase production, which makes the dark spots fade faster (in a week or so).
4. Laser Treatments
Laser treatments are an effective way of getting rid of dark areas around the mouth. Though not permanent, they can lighten the skin. Results also depend on your skincare routine, sun exposure and your genes.
One particular treatment known as Fraxel laser treatment  is used to treat pigmentation. It is a topical, microscopic laser that promotes elastin and collagen regeneration. It is effective in reducing dark spots and resurfacing the skin tone.
5. Acid Peels
Your dermatologist may use a salicylic acid  or glycolic acid peel  to treat the dark skin around your mouth. However, these peels do not offer a permanent solution and the pigmentation can return.
These peels penetrate deep into the skin to repair the damaged cells. Post treatment precautions like staying out of the sun, applying sunscreen and protecting the skin can make the effect of the peels last longer.
6. Natural Remedies
You can also use natural remedies to treat the dark skin around your mouth. Most of these natural ingredients can be found in your kitchen. Unless you have an allergy to any of these, you can try using them to get rid of the pigmented skin.
A. Oatmeal Scrub
Make a facepack with oatmeal, tomato pulp and olive oil. Apply on your skin and rub gently in a circular motion. It will help brighten your skin and remove dead skin cells. It will also help lighten the area around the lips.
B. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is an excellent remedy to lighten the skin as the citric acid in lemons lightens dark areas of the skin and prevents its recurrence. Cut a lemon into half, and rub one half on the dark patch around your lips for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off.
You can even mix a bit of honey into lemon juice and apply around the dark skin. Leave overnight and rinse off the next morning. This remedy is effective for those with dry to very dry skin. Try mixing grated cucumber with lemon juice too as a face mask to lighten the dark spots around your mouth.
If you are using lemon juice to lighten the dark area around the mouth, it should be done in the evening as sun exposure needs to be avoided while using lemon. Always moisturise after using lemon as it can dry out the skin. If you have sensitive skin, try using lemon on a small area first as it can cause inflammation.
To remove the dark patches around your mouth, massage half a raw potato on the darkened areas in a circular motion for about 20 minutes. Potatoes have bleaching qualities and this treatment is ideal for those with sensitive skin.
Papaya is rich in vitamin A and C and can be used to reduce the dark patches around the mouth. Take a few slices of raw papaya and blend with rose water to make a thick paste. Apply as a mask and leave on for half an hour. Rinse it off gently with cold water.
E. Aloe Vera
Aloesin , which is derived from aloe vera, can help lighten the skin around the mouth. Taken in capsule form, it may also help women who have melasma.
Other Quick Tips To Get Rid Of Darkness Around The Mouth
1. Make a quick paste with turmeric powder and rose water. Apply on the face, especially on the dark areas around your mouth. It will reduce pigmentation and also fine lines and wrinkles. Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
2. Blend 3 teaspoons each of raw rice and add 2 teaspoons each of wheat flour and besan. Make a paste with milk and apply as a mask. Wet it after 20 minutes and scrub the face. Then rinse off. You can see visibly lighter skin around the mouth in about 6 weeks.
3. An age-old scrub you can make at home is a paste with besan, fresh milk or cream and a pinch of turmeric powder. You can apply it on the dark patches and also use it as a face scrub. Do this daily for best results.
4. If you have a dark patch around your mouth due to a burn or the application of hot wax, heat a teaspoon of mustard oil till it is as hot as you can touch it. Apply on the dark patch every day and leave on. Within a few weeks, the dark patch will vanish.
5. Using a topical ointment that has an ingredient called glabridin, a licorice extract, can lighten the skin around the mouth. That is because research shows that glabridin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and skin whitening properties.
There can be many reasons that cause pigmentation around the mouth. From melasma during pregnancy to sun exposure and side effects of medicines. The good news is that this condition can be treated and the dark patches done away with permanently.
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