Don’t you just hate it when you are about to go out to meet your friends, family and relatives, or having an important meeting, and you just realized, what is that above my upper lips? Those stubborn little spots or even big patches of dark skin on the area between your nose and lips. Oh, my God! By now, it even sounded like you can actually have a woman moustache! Be glad or at least feel a little relieved if you are a man. At least it wouldn’t sound so horrific!
So, let me introduce you to what these dark patches are
Black Spot on Lip in medicine, we called it melasma. It is a condition in which you suffer a skin discoloration. The skin that is affected by melasma become darker in comparison to the skin surrounding it (the normal skin), which occurred through acquiring hypermelanosis, an over-excessive production of melanin (skin pigment).
Melasma can not only show in the area above your lips, but it can also appear in other areas of the body, such as, cheeks, temples, or your forehead. Albeit not as common, melasma may also occur on the bridge of the nose, chin, neck, and forearms.
The cause of melasma is linked mainly to excessive exposure to the sunlight, and instability of the hormones, leading many cases more common in females than in males since women go through their monthly cycle in which a lot of hormonal changes take places. The culprit is esterogen hormone which makes the estrogen-affect melanocytes hyperactive producing pigment.. The downer is that these affected melanocytes are of a bigger size than the normal ones. Other said hormone progesterone might also taking part in the mechanism too.
Some medication especially the ones that makes you sensitive to the sun light, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptive are also the cause of developing a melasma. Furthermore, it is common to develop a melasma when a woman is having a pregnancy. That is why melasma sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy” or “chloasma”.
Some other causes that may increase the likeliness of getting a melasma, including tanning booths, excessive waxing, stress, and thyroid disease.
Though its pathogenesis remain largely unknown. Many studies have brought upon the correlation between ethnicity and the likelihood of acquiring melasma. Collective data studies have proven that Asian and Hispanic women are the most likely group that would suffer a melasma.
To conclude, the risk factors of you getting a melasma is higher if:
- You are a woman. (Studies show that 90% of the people developing melasma are women)
- Dark skinned individual.
- In pregnancy.
- Suffer a long term stress or diagnosed with thyroid disease.
- You are of Asian or Hispanic ethnic.
- Under birth control pills or medication that is known to increase the sensitivity of skin towards sunlight.
- Often go outside or travel without any kind of UV protection in daylight.
- Fond of tanning without proper skin protection.
- Excessive hair removal or waxing.
Black Spot on Lip or Melasma can easily be diagnosed by a medical practitioner or doctor, simply by looking directly at your skin or sometimes light your skin with a special ultraviolet lamps, −called Wood’s lamp examination−, to further distinct the depth of the skin discoloration.
Though it sounds ugly (and most of you agree that it looked ugly as well), until now there is no proven harm can be brought by developing a melasma.I would assure you that melasma in itself is not harmful in any way. It is ugly but it won’t make you ill in any way. In fact, since the cases is so many, it is called a common skin disorder. But there are some steps and tips we can do to prevent it or at least minimalize the factors of getting one.
Here is what we can do to prevent developing melasma:
- Always wear sun screen protection. The sunscreen need to have at least an SPF of 30 to protect you from ultraviolet A and B
- Always apply sunblock to the more sensitive area. It also prevents you get sunburned that hurts like being bitten by a billion ants.
- Try to wear a wide brimmed hat or umbrella so it can fend off sunlight from striking directly onto your skin
- If you want to take it into further measure, you can always wear clothes that offer more covering to your skin, protecting other areas besides the face and upper part of the body.
- Stop taking or lessen the frequency of medication that is known to make your skin prone to sun light exposure.
- Don’t go tanning your skin without using any kind of skin protection
- If you still choose to tan your skin, opt to do self-tanning instead of going to a tanning booth. It is known to be more skin-friendly.
Your next question should be,
“What if I already had one? Can it be cured?”.
Now, take a deep breath and be relieved. There are some treatments you can try to get rid of melasma or at least make it less visible.
- Use a lightening mask regularly. You can find this in the regular cosmetic store or sometimes even in the drug store. Or you could even try to mix it yourself.
- Apply skin lightening cream. This lightening cream will act as a counter to your dark patches, reducing its dark shades and making it looks lighter, much like the process of a bleaching. These lightening cream products are varied and work in many different ways.
- Hydroquinone works on taking your excessive pigmentation out of your skin while also blocking the natural chemical that triggers the production of melanin
- Tretinoin is a type of Vitamin A which helps accelerating the process of skin regeneration, which discard the old dead skin cells in a faster rate.
- Azelaic acid works in a similar way hydroquonine works.
It slows down or stop the production of the skin pigment
- Kojic Acid
- Chemical peels
This liquid solution will provide a mild chemical burn which then the burned area will be slowly peeled off over time leaving space for a fresh new skin to appear. Chemical peels variation is determined by its strength. Glycolic acid being the mildest carries the least risk of causing scarring problem. As the side effect may have cause more trouble, this method may also be considered as your last choice if your melasma is not getting any better with other product.
- Using facial scrub three until four times a week is a good choice.
You could also make the mixture yourself using sugar or salt and if you’d like you can also add some spice, flowers, or fruits to make for a desirable scent.
- Go for microdermabrasion treatment.
You should go to see a dermatologist for this option. He/she will remove the upper layers of the dark patches using a crystal head rotating brush.
- Consume vitamin C.
Either by directly consuming it nto your body or just apply some cream containing vitamin C. Vitamin C will increase the amount of glutathione in your blood. A substance proven have been taking part in balancing pheomelanin (lighter pigments) and eumelanin (darker pigments) of our skin. Vitamin C is also a good source of antioxidant which can minimalize your risk of getting a cancer. One more reason to include vitamin C in your diet or treatmen!
- Stop smoking!
Nicotine in cigarettes is known to stain your lips and make a bad circulation of blood flow in the affected area which will make your lips looks darker and dull.
- Massaging your lips and other affected area will help to make the blood circulation better.
- Lessen your waxing habit.
Over-excessive hair removal could lead to your skin not being able to have time to lighten itself
- Keep yourself and your lips hydrated.
Water is known for many of its beneficial attributes. Keeping yourself hydrated overall will make the skin less dull. Using a lip balm can also prevent your lips from getting dry and make it glows.
- Don’t drink black tea, black coffee or other dark colored drinks as it may stain your lips area. Try to consume other subtitutes for caffeinated such as green tea, white coffee, or white tea.
- There is also one more temporary solution. That is to cover your melasma using cosmetic.
Though this choice may have lead you to some other skin problems. Please choose your cosmetic wisely and pay attention which products are the most suitable for you.
Despite the vastness of your choices above, there are some side effects that may be both known and unknown by us. It is advised to at least make an appointment to a dermatologist other medical practitioner that has expertise in skin treatment first to examine precisely about individual medical condition. This step is necessary so people will not get dangerous or unwanted side effects. For example, though hydroquinone is proven very effective in removing dark patches it is also widely known for its carcinogenic attributes.
A dermatologist can also help you to further prescribed a specific medication that is suitable for each individual based on their medical records and condition if needed. If you feel your skin conditions troubles you greatly it is a great choice to have a regular session with a personal dermatologist.
Other thing you might want to know that there is a possibility people that suffer melasma can have a higher chance to develop skin cancer in the future. These two are linked loosely based on the similarity of one of the causes itself, which is excessive sunlight exposure.
But do not panic guys! Since now you know it has to do with sunlight exposure, it was just one more reason to keep your skin healthy and take a good care of it. Shield those skins with UV protection everyday even if you do not feel like it. It might save your life one day. Better be safe than sorry!