Hyperpigmentation is something that many people experience in their lifetime, and the area around the mouth is particularly prone to this problem. Patches of skin can become significantly darker when excess melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color, is produced and deposited in these areas. If you are embarrassed about it, don’t worry, you are not alone and there are ways to treat it and reduce discoloration. Keep reading this article from The Dermo Lab to learn about the treatment of dark pigmentation around the mouth in collaboration with the dermatologist and cosmetologist Dr. Shaimaa Abd El Ghany.
What causes pigmentation around the mouth?
Sun exposure, hormonal fluctuations, medications and certain underlying conditions can all cause changes in melanin production, especially on the face. This can cause hyperpigmentation spots that can appear as discoloration around the mouth.
1- Sun exposure
One of the main causes of hyperpigmentation is sun exposure, and since the face is usually the most exposed part of the body, the skin around the mouth is often the area where dark spots start to appear. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun exposure increase the risk of developing these dark spots, especially if you do not use sunscreen.
Keep in mind that darker-skinned people are more likely to be affected by hyperpigmentation than lighter-skinned people, so it is extremely important to use sun protection such as sunscreen, regardless of your skin color. You are at increased risk of dark pigmentation around the mouth if you tend to skip applying sunscreen on your mouth and lips, which can also lead to lip pigmentation.
2- Hormonal fluctuations
Hormonal changes in women during pregnancy, as well as in women taking birth control pills (oral contraceptives) or hormone replacement therapy, can cause melasma, which consists of dark brown and gray-brown spots.
Melasma usually appears on the face, in areas such as the upper lip and chin, as well as the cheeks, nose and forehead.
While oral contraceptives can cause melasma, other medications can increase the risk of hyperpigmentation. These include:
- Hormone replacements, especially estrogen
- Doxycycline, a type of antibiotic that can increase sun sensitivity
- Chemotherapy drugs
4- Skin trauma
If you have suffered a severe injury, acne rash, burn or infection around the mouth, you may develop hyperpigmentation in the form of brown or black spots after the skin heals. Thus, Dr. Shaimaa Abd El Ghany states that post-traumatic or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can lead to pigmentation around the mouth.
Changes in skin pigmentation can also be associated with vitamin deficiencies, including vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Dr. Shaimaa Abd El Ghany adds that pigmentation around the mouth can also be due to chronic perioral dermatitis.
Who is more likely to have discoloration around the mouth?
People with darker skin are more prone to hyperpigmentation. This is due to a higher rate of melanin production compared to fair skin.
As you age, you may notice more spots around your face, chest and other areas that are most exposed to UV rays. The risk of skin discoloration around the mouth due to the sun is higher if you don’t wear sunscreen in that area.
You may notice that discoloration spots around the mouth are more prominent during the summer months. This is likely due to more sun exposure, which can further stimulate melanin and make the hyperpigmentation more visible.
Dr. Shaimaa Abd El Ghany notes that patients with sensitive skin and recurrent perioral dermatitis are also susceptible to discoloration around the mouth.
Keep reading to learn about the treatment of dark pigmentation around the mouth and how to prevent it.
What is the treatment of dark pigmentation around the mouth?
Hyperpigmentation around the mouth can be more difficult to treat compared to other areas of your face, due to the fragile nature of the skin in this area. So, how to remove dark pigmentation around the mouth? There are actually several ways to get rid of these spots. We recommend one of the following methods:
Spending long hours in the sun can damage your skin and cause dark marks around the mouth. If you are concerned about dark pigmentation around the mouth, remember to apply sunscreen every day. Sun exposure makes existing discolorations even darker and can cause new areas of dark pigmentation to appear. For best results, opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide on all sun-exposed skin daily. It’s also a good idea to cover your body with a hat, gloves and sunglasses every time you go out.
Try the following sunscreen that may work best for you and help correct existing dark spots.
Ducray Melascreen UV Light Cream SPF50+
- Medically prescribed ointments
A dermatologist can examine you and prescribe the most effective ointment for fading dark spots around the mouth. It may contain hydroquinone, as this medication decreases the production of tyrosinase and limits the cells that create pigment, which helps fade dark spots. Dr. Shaimaa Abd El Ghany adds that you can also use a combination of topical moisturizers and topical mild corticosteroids.
- Over-the-counter lightening creams
There are many over-the-counter skin lightening creams that can effectively reduce darkening of the area around the mouth. You can look for ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, curcumin, niacinamide, glabridin (a licorice extract), grape seed extract and azelaic acid. These will block the production of tyrosinase, which the skin needs to make melanin. Apply as directed on the packaging.
Here are 2 creams to reduce pigmentation around the mouth. They contain depigmenting active ingredients and are ideal for unifying skin tone.
*For localized dark spots:
Ducray Melascreen Depigmenting Intensive Care: Apply morning and evening to the affected areas.
*For uneven complexion:
Ducray Melascreen Eclat Light Cream SPF15: Apply morning and/or evening to the entire face and neck.
- Laser treatments
Laser treatments are an effective way to get rid of dark areas around the mouth. Results depend on your skin care routine, sun exposure and genes.
How to prevent pigmentation around the mouth?
Depending on the underlying cause, you can help prevent dark spots around the mouth by:
- Wearing a sunscreen every day, which can prevent hyperpigmentation or melasma caused by exposure to visible light
- Avoiding tanning beds and peak sunlight hours
- Wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face
- Addressing any underlying nutritional deficiencies that have been diagnosed
- Changing your medications, if recommended by a doctor
It’s a wrap
Discoloration of the skin around the mouth is due to excessive melanin production in your skin.
Pigmentation around the mouth can be due to a variety of reasons such as sun exposure, hormonal therapy, pregnancy and even the side effects of certain medications.
In most cases, dark spots around the mouth are not dangerous and only require treatment if their appearance bothers you.
You can also consult a dermatologist if you think the darkening around the mouth is due to medication or a health problem. Keep in mind that depending on your situation, treatment may take some time. Be patient and choose the option that is best for you.