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Lip pigmentation can be due to many reasons, including trauma, burns, scars, irritants like hair dyes, and autoimmune conditions. Based on the specific cause of pigmentation in some cases, topical medications like hydroquinone or kojic acid creams can be helpful. If skin pigmentation is related to hormonal changes (pregnancy/ menstrual cycles), this will not benefit from treatment with these creams.
What are the causes of lip pigmentation?
- Trauma: The most common cause of pigment on lips is due to minor skin injuries. Usually, the colour goes away in 6-12 weeks without requiring any treatment.
- Age spots/sun spots: This is due to an increase in age, prolonged exposure to the sun, or pollutants like tar and asphalt, which can cause pigmentation
- Melasma (Mask of pregnancy): This condition causes brown patches on the face, especially during pregnancy and while taking contraceptives pills. It may recur with subsequent pregnancies or when you stop contraceptives. Sun protection is very important for this condition
- Lichen planus: This autoimmune disorder can affect lips too, leading to red raised bumps with white lines on them called Wickham ‘sae. It commonly affects older people.
- Cheilitis granulomatosa: This is a rare condition that can cause the failure of one or both lips to open because of non-cancerous growths called granulomas. It also causes redness and swelling around the mouth. The treatment for this includes corticosteroids injections under the skin which will shrink the granulomas over time
- Fungal infections: Yeast called Candida albicans can be responsible for white patches inside lip folds, leading to cracking and secondary bacterial infection. Treatment involves topical antifungal medications along with oral antifungal drugs. In some cases, it may require surgical removal of the damaged area by a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin conditions)
- Burns: Burns from sun exposure or chemicals, hot objects can cause areas of discoloration due to destruction of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Sun protection is crucial for burn-related lip pigmentation
- Allergic reactions: Exposure to hair dyes and other chemicals can lead to allergic contact dermatitis, in which case topical steroids combined with antihistamines help relieve the symptoms.
- Melanoma: This form of skin cancer affects pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) near the lips. It is one of the most common cancers in women ages 25-30. Early diagnosis and treatment may improve your chances for a better outcome
- Autoimmune disorders: Lupus erythematosus, a condition where your body attacks its tissues, including skin causing rashes and swelling, can lead to lip pigmentation. It also causes redness of the inner cheeks called Cheilitis.
- Inflammatory disorders: Leucoplakia is a precancerous condition that may affect the inside of lips which appear as white patches on lips. There are many other inflammatory conditions like Bechet’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Sarcoidosis, etc.
- Drug-induced: Some drugs have been associated with lip pigmentation as a side effect, such as sulpha-based antibiotics, anabolic steroids, or chemotherapeutic agents.
- Genetic disorders: Addison’s disease is one of the most notable genetic diseases that cause lip discoloration. It is a condition where your adrenal glands do not work correctly and may not produce enough cortisol. This hormone helps protect the body from stress, illness, and trauma by regulating inflammation in the body. You should have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor for any signs of this disorder.
Can a dermatologist or skin doctor treat lip pigmentation?
Yes, based on the specific cause of the pigmentations, various medical treatments are available for treating this condition. However, an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of lip discoloration will need to be made before commencing any medication. A dermatologist will get you tested for allergies and get your symptoms evaluated before starting treatment.
How do skin doctors treat lip pigmentation?
Skin doctors treat lip pigmentation by prescribing medications that stop pigment production or block melanin from reaching the skin surface. Both procedures are equally effective in treating this condition.
A skin doctor may use any of these drugs alone or combine two to achieve the desired results. When using tretinoin with hydroquinone, tazarotene, or fluocinolone, acetonides are frequently combined due to their synergistic effects. The topical formulas used for treating this condition include:
- Tretinoin (Retin A)is a cream that prevents cells that produce a pigment called melanocytes from sticking together not to clog up pores and cause skin darkening. This medication also helps normalize pigment production so that it is less likely to cause dark patches.
- Hydroquinone is one of the most effective topical medications used for treating hyperpigmentation conditions. It blocks melanin from reaching the surface of your skin. Combined with tretinoin, hydroquinone works far better than using either medication alone.
3. Tazartanene is an acne medication that controls excessive oiliness by decreasing the amount of sebum being produced by your sebaceous glands. This agent can be combined with antibiotics to get rid of acne and pigmented areas around lips at the same time because both are treated simultaneously in this case.
4. Fluocinolone acetonide is a steroid that helps resolve the inflammation and swelling of your lips. It belongs to a class of drugs called corticosteroids. It also prevents abnormal pigmentation from taking place by its anti-inflammatory effects.
5. Azelaic acid comes in cream or gel form and can be applied directly on dark patches around lips to quickly lighten them up within a brief period of around one month. This medication blocks the production of melanocytes, which are cells that produce more pigment in your skin, thereby causing hyperpigmentation without any harmful side effects.
6. Kojic acid is another agent that works by blocking melanin synthesis or accumulation of melanin in skin cells. It does so by inhibiting the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme that controls melanin production in skin cells, and this is why it works well with hydroquinone to treat dark patches on lips.
7. Glycolic acid peels: This type of chemical peel will remove dead skin cells and stimulate the natural exfoliating mechanisms of your skin. By promoting cell turnover, glycolic acid decreases pigment production and lightens pigmented areas over time.
8. Retinol: Whether applied topically or consumed orally, retinol acts as a potent antioxidant agent to lighten up lip pigmentation by reducing oxidative stress in the body, which contributes to causing such conditions. However, too much exposure to sunlight must be avoided while using this medication on the skin.
9. Licorice extract is an herb that has been used in Chinese and Indian systems of medicine for centuries to treat a wide variety of skin problems, including hyperpigmentation. It inhibits tyrosinase, which is an enzyme that synthesizes melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). By disrupting MSH production, licorice extract prevents skin cells from producing pigment, reducing pigmented areas on lips.
10. Azelaic acid: This chemical substance acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor and helps fade dark patches by blocking or slowing down their production. It may take around three months before you start noticing visible improvement with this treatment regimen, so be patient and avoid rushing up things despite
What are some natural remedies that can help lighten lip pigmentation?
There are many ways to lighten your lips naturally.
- Use a lip scrub: The purpose of the exfoliant is to remove excess, dry and dark skin from lips. You can make your lip scrub at home with the following simple recipe 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp virgin coconut oil (add more if needed)
- Lemon juice: Though it may be irritating initially, lemon juice helps lighten pigmentation as it contains citric acid that dissolves melanin deposits on your lips. Mix one-half teaspoon each of lemon juice and honey and apply this mixture twice daily for four weeks.
- Apply sunscreen: Wearing sunscreen prevents not only sunburns but also protects your skin from long-term damage leading to spots and patches. Use lip balms with SPF 30.
- Use topical creams: Applying vitamin C cream on your lips will help inhibit melanin production by blocking the enzyme tyrosinase and will also increase collagen formation for healthier and smoother lips. Avoid lip balms with menthol as they cause dryness and peeling of lips.
- Use natural moisturizers: Shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil are some examples of natural moisturizers. You can apply it to your lips before going to bed.
- Use grape seed extract: Grape seed extract contains resveratrol which has anti-inflammatory properties and may work well for reducing redness of the inner cheek.
- Try alpha arbutin: Alpha Arbutin is a substance derived from bearberry shrub or tree leaves that works by interrupting the production of melanin pigment in the skin.
- Try oil cleansing: It involves massaging your lips with castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and grape seed oil to reduce melanin production in the skin cells.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks: Caffeine is known to stimulate skin pigmentation that leads to dark spots. Steer clear of coffee, tea, and sodas as they result in more melanin produced by the body, leading to darker pigmentation on the lips.
- Use vitamin K creams: Vitamin K or phytonadione can be helpful for those suffering from melasma as it reduces pigment deposits on the tissues lining your eyelids and mouth.
If you are looking for a natural treatment for lip pigmentation, you can also consider homeopathic treatment.
Why consider homeopathic treatment for lip pigmentation?
Homeopathy is one of the most popular complementary medicine practices used worldwide for treating various lifestyle and skin-related problems, including dark patches on lips caused due to hyperpigmentation or melasma. Homeopathic remedies help to treat lip pigmentation by stimulating the skin regeneration process naturally without producing any new pigmentation deposits over time which often happens with chemical-based creams and other unstable skin treatments.
- Risk of side effects is shallow compared to other treatment options for lip pigmentation
- Lip pigmentation that responds well to homeopathic treatment is more likely to clear without any or with minimal scarring, while some cases may require laser surgery or microdermabrasion.
- Treatment is pain-free, safe, and can be carried out at home, so it’s easy on the pocket too!
- Homeopathy has no known drug interactions, so it’s safe to use along with other medication you are taking for lip pigmentation even if they have strong chemicals in them.
- Gentle herbal ingredients of homeopathic remedies stimulate the skin regeneration process without producing any new hyperpigmentation deposits on lips over time which often happens with chemical-based creams.
- Homeopathic treatment costs are meagre than other expensive procedures like laser lip pigmentation that insurance companies mostly do not cover.
- Homeopathic remedies are safe for pregnant women suffering from dark pigmentation on the lips during pregnancy, lactating mothers with children below 12-years of age, and people suffering from autoimmune disorders or cancer.
- Homeopathic treatments don’t produce any side effects, which is always a good thing when treating lip pigmentation without medications.
- The homeopathic treatment treats the root cause of lip pigmentation. It treats it by strengthening the skin cells making them less prone to damage, regenerating new collagen fibres leading to smoother, brighter lips.
- Homeopathic treatment results are long-lasting since homeopathic remedies alter the genetic makeup of your body so that it is less likely to produce melanin pigment on its own for an extended period.
- Homeopathic treatment in lip pigmentation is safe on all skin types except those with very sensitive or allergic skin conditions that might respond negatively to specific ingredients used in homeopathy without consulting an experienced natural health care professional.
- Homeopathic remedies suitable for treating lip pigmentation can be taken along with alternative medicine treatments like herbal creams or supplements for even better results.
However, you must visit a homeopathy doctor to diagnose the proper reason for the lip pigmentation and help cure it properly. You must see a homeopathy doctor who treats pigmentation conditions like melasma, vitiligo. You can consider booking an appointment through OHO Homeopathy and avail of their complimentary consultation offer before you can choose a homeopathic doctor and start treatment.