Some pigmentation on the skin is a good thing. This is what helps protect the deeper layers from skin damage. However, when the pigmentation is overproduced, hyperpigmentation occurs. Acne scars, aging, hormone estrogen levels, reactions to prescription drugs such as salicylic acid or benzyl peroxide are all causes of hyperpigmentation. While hyperpigmentation is normally harmless, this condition can make one feel very self-conscious about one’s skin as it results in unsightly, dark colored blotches and an overall uneven skin tone. “Age spots” or “liver spots,” are a well-known form of hyperpigmentation. Doctors call spots that are caused by sun damage “solar lentigines.” They crop up on the hands or faces or people after begin frequently exposed to the sun. Another type of hyperpigmentation is called, “melasma” or “chloasma.” These spots look very much like age or liver spots but are larger and usually appear at the end of hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause. Pregnancy can cause the body to produce too much melanin. This can result in what many call a darkening around the eyes and nose often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy.” It can also show up on the abdomen and on other areas of the skin. Sometimes, birth control pills can result in the same type of hyperpigmentation because they cause the body to undergo hormonal changes that are similar to those experienced during pregnancy. This latter type usually goes away when the person stops taking the pills, however.
Sometimes, skin pigmentation occurs as the result of skin diseases such as acne or by injuries to the skin. Sometimes it can occur due to surgical incisions. Sometimes, it can be caused when freckles, an inherited condition, become darker or more pronounced after sun exposure.
Some people use bleaching creams to treat hyperpigmentation, but these can take up to 6 months to show any results at all, if any, and can contain all kinds of harmful chemicals. Laser treatments are also being used to treat hyperpigmentation, but these treatments are very expensive and can sometimes make the condition worse rather than better. Glycolic acid, azelaic acid and chemical peels are also used to treat hyperpigmentation, but these are all harsh treatments and each can be dangerous and cause more harm than good.
A safe, gentle and effective method of treating hyperpigmentation, however, is Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is a species of plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat both skin conditions and other health issues. It is grown in North America and its history as a medicinal treatment has been traced back as far as 6,000 years. The pure gel from inside the stem can be used directly on the skin to instill its healing properties, but has recently been extracted and bottled for sale by natural cosmetics and medical companies. This seemingly magical plant contains all kinds of anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and other natural properties that make it perfect for treating most skin problems. It works on hyperpigmentation by encouraging the skin to regenerate new skin cells. As the new skin cells form, the old ones are sloughed off, leaving a fresh, new area free of the unsightly dark spots. Additionally, it adds moisturizing and cleansing properties that leave the skin looking and feeling fresh and rejuvenated.
Those who develop new areas of dark spots on their hands, faces and other places on the skin can treat them with Aloe Vera. This will prevent the area from getting worse, help to quickly fade the already-existing patches, and will make the complexion fresh and glowing. When the dark patches first appear, it is a good idea to mix a little sunscreen with the Aloe Vera and apply it directly to the effected area to keep it from progressing.
DIY Aloe Vera Mask
When plagued with hyperpigmentation, one can prepare and Aloe Vera mask right at home and apply it to the effected areas. Begin by adding ½ tablespoon of organic Aloe Vera gel into a small container. It is important to use fresh, organic Aloe Vera gel and to avoid using any commercial product that contains harsh chemicals. Aloe Vera plants can be purchased at any gardening center. To use, simply snip off small portions of the fatty stems and extract the juice. Next, add 1 tablespoon of seaweed to the container. Kelp powder is an excellent choice that can be purchased at any natural foods or natural cosmetics outlet. To the Aloe gel and seaweed, add ½ tablespoon of raw honey and mix together well. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Then, cleanse the face with a gentle cleanser (Preferably one that contains Aloe Vera.) and pat dry with a towel. Avoiding the eye area, apply the Aloe Vera mask mixture over the entire face, lie down and relax for at least 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse with lukewarm water. Do not use soap. Using this mask two to three times per week will make a dramatic difference in the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Results vary from person-to-person, but most begin to see a noticeable difference within two to three weeks.
Another way to treat hyperpigmentation with Aloe Vera is to apply the gel directly to the affected areas of the skin with a cotton ball about thirty minutes prior to bedtime. This will give it enough time to dry. Sleep, and rinse the gel off in the morning. It is best to use only tepid water as a rinse. However, some people prefer to remove the gel in their morning shower. If this is the case, they should use only a very mild, natural soap. A noticeable difference should occur in from two to three weeks, although this varies with the individual