Lip Pigmentation: Causes, Treatment, Home Remedies


True beauty isn't solely about using pricey skincare products or adhering to a complex routine. It's rooted in caring for your natural skin through a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and a healthy lifestyle, nurturing every aspect of your face. While many concentrate on areas like under the eyes, dark circles, cheeks, and forehead, the significance of lip care is often overlooked. Occasionally, people may notice black spots on their lips and attribute them to using incorrect products, but in reality, it's known as lip pigmentation or lip discolouration.

Lip pigmentation refers to the darkening or uneven colour of the lips. 

Commenting on this, Dr Rusnei Schmitz, Dermatologist, at Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, says, "Darkening of the lips occurs due to increased melanin deposits in the lip region. Similar to hyperpigmentation, this condition can stem from enhanced exposure to sunlight, with additional lifestyle contributors such as dietary choices, and food allergies impacting the pigmentation of the mouth."

What Causes Lip Pigmentation

The lips have fewer layers than the rest of the skin, making them thinner and allowing the colour of blood vessels to show through. Unlike the rest of the skin, lips lack sweat glands and hair follicles, so they don't sweat or produce sebum to protect against external factors. It's important to keep your lips moisturised regularly. Various factors, aside from genetics, can cause changes in lip colour, and here's everything to know about them. 

1. Sun Exposure: Lip pigmentation can be triggered by various factors, with sun exposure being a major contributor. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to an excess production of melanin, causing hyperpigmentation on the lips. Due to their delicate nature, lips are vulnerable to harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays, leading to discolouration and dehydration.

2. Dehydration: Water plays a crucial role in supporting kidney function, promoting digestion, and contributing to healthy skin. When we don't consume enough water, our skin, including our lips, can become dehydrated, leading to darkening. Adequate fluid intake helps clear pigmentation and eliminates toxins from our bodies, promoting overall skin health.

3. Continuous Lip Biting: Frequent lip biting, especially during moments of stress, is common and acceptable occasionally. However, excessive lip biting, particularly when lips are dry and chapped, can lead to dehydration. When we habitually bite at the dry parts of our lips or excessively lick them, the saliva draws away moisture, leaving the lips dehydrated.

4. Wrong Lip Product And Poor Lip Care Routine: Many everyday cosmetics are often filled with chemicals. Some of these may react unfavourably with our skin, potentially causing allergic reactions and darkening or further pigmentation of the lips. Since lip skin is more delicate than the rest of the body, it's essential to adopt a proper lip care routine to give the lips the care they need.

5. Too Much Salt Consumption: Consuming too much salt can contribute to dryness, and spice can lead to flakiness and irritation on the lips. Remember that whatever you eat touches your lips first before entering your body. To maintain a healthy lip barrier, it's important to moderate your intake of salt and spice.

6. Vitamin B Deficiency: If you've experienced discomfort like cracks and dryness at the corners of your lips, it might be attributed to a deficiency in Vitamin B, particularly Vitamin B7 and B12. This deficiency can display in symptoms such as dry, chapped, and cracked lips.

Treatment For Lip Pigmentation

If you're dealing with pigmented lips, the primary steps include boosting your water intake, regularly moisturising your lips, and avoiding leaving them chapped or dry.

Highlighting this Dr. Umesh Nihalani from Dubai London Clinic and Speciality Hospital said, "There are many pigmentation treatments and office procedures that can provide good results. Treatment depends on the depth of pigmentation, the skin type and colour, lifestyle factors, etc. The treatment options that are available include topical creams, chemical peels and laser skin rejuvenation. In some cases where dehydration is the only problem, and the moisturisers are not enough, tiny injections of hyaluronic acid help improve the hydration without any other volumetric changes. These treatments can also help enhance the lips aesthetically." 

Home Remedies

Dr. Umesh Nihalani, of Dubai London Clinic and Speciality Hospital, said, "Lips are very delicate parts of the body; they don’t have a hard keratin layer, which makes them more sensitive to harsh treatments. So, one has to choose the home care remedies with caution. For hydration one can use honey, coconut oil, or almond oil. For inflammation, one can use turmeric, which might help. For pigmentary changes after the acute episode is over, mild exfoliation using lemon or pomegranate may help. But these natural remedies may not suit everyone. Be cautious when using on very inflamed or irritated skin. If the symptoms don't improve in a few days, professional advice should not be delayed."

Some Home Remedies That You Can Try

1. Lemon And Sugar Scrub: At night, take a lemon wedge, dip it in sugar, and gently rub your lips with the sugared lemon. The following morning, rinse your lips with lukewarm water.

2. Turmeric And Milk: Create a paste by mixing 1 tablespoon of milk with a small amount of turmeric powder in a small bowl. Gently rub the paste onto your lips using a wet fingertip. Allow it to sit for approximately five minutes before rinsing it with cool water. After drying your lips, apply your preferred moisturiser.

3. Rose Water And Honey: Combine two drops of rose water with six drops of honey. Apply this mixture to your lips three to four times a day, and you can also use it before bedtime at night.

4. Aloe Vera Gel: Apply a thin layer of fresh aloe vera gel to your lips once a day. Allow it to dry, and then rinse it off with warm water.

5. Olive Oil: At night, gently massage a few drops of olive oil onto your lips.

Follow A Proper Lip Care Regime

Keep your lips well-hydrated with a generous layer of moisturiser, and be sure to use effective lip scrubs for exfoliation at least twice a week. Exfoliation aids in removing dead skin and addressing pigmentation issues. Additionally, always apply a lip sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor 50 to shield your lips from UV rays. Maintain a nutritious diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Lastly, resist the urge to lick, bite, or pick at your lips.

Dr. Rusnei Schmitz of Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Clinic advises, "To prevent lip pigmentation, adopt essential practices such as maintaining proper oral hygiene, quitting smoking, and minimising sun exposure with the use of sunscreen-infused lip balm. A well-balanced diet rich in nutrition, hydration, and exfoliation using a gentle mix of coconut oil and sugar are key. Additionally, explore natural remedies like a honey and lime juice mixture to naturally lighten upper lip colour. These steps collectively contribute to maintaining lip health and avoiding unwanted pigmentation."

When To Visit A Dermatologist 

If you've been struggling with lip pigmentation and have experimented with home remedies without success, it's advisable to consult a dermatologist. They can identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatments.

Adding more to this, Dr Rusnei Schmitz, Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Clinic, says, "Recognising when professional assistance is necessary is crucial. If home remedies prove ineffective, it's advisable to consult a board-certified dermatologist. They can assess your specific skin type and devise a personalised skincare routine to safely address the dark discolouration. Rest assured that in most cases, if the lip hyperpigmentation is caused due to lifestyle factors such as hormonal imbalance, diet or poor oral hygiene, it will correct itself over time if changes are made."

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