In this age of extreme pollution and poor dietary choices, taking care of our skin has become an increasingly pressing concern. India is the most polluted country in the world, and that can take a toll on our skin, leaving it dull, pigmented, and in dire need of some care. What’s more, junk food, smoking, Vitamin B12 or iron deficiencies, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, insulin resistance, or genetic factors can cause pigmentation on lips and knuckles.
Pigmentation can also be seen among individuals working in industries that involve contact with chemicals. These chemicals, such as acids and alkalis, are widely used in manufacturing, healthcare, and cleaning and can cause skin irritation and chemical burns, which can further lead to skin changes and pigmentation. Exposure to sunlight can exacerbate pigmentation on the knuckles, particularly when combined with chemical exposure.
Pigmentation can be worrisome for many people, who then struggle for the right treatment. But first, it’s important to understand that prevention is key. Some do-it-yourself hacks can keep lip and knuckle pigmentation at bay. A variety of natural remedies can restore your skin’s health and vibrancy.
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Hack 1: Cleaning pigmentation with a brush
Toothbrushes can be excellent tools for exfoliating the lips. Use a toothbrush that has a tongue cleaner at the back of its head, and massage your lips to effectively scrub off dead skin cells and reveal smoother, softer lips. To enhance the efficacy of this technique, I recommend mixing a portion of castor oil and salt in a bowl to create a scrub. Apply the scrub to your lips, and then gently massage the area with the toothbrush. The result? A rejuvenated, more youthful-looking pout that will leave you confident.
Hack 2: Use sunscreen
Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause pigmentation on the lips and knuckles, just like on other areas of the body. While you can ensure your limbs, face and other exposed areas are sun-protected, what about the lips?
One effective strategy is to include antioxidant-rich foods in your diet — yellow, green, and red fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, berries, bananas, and grapes. These foods can help combat free radicals that damage skin cells and lead to pigmentation. Additionally, using a lip balm or lipstick with SPF can offer additional protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
Hack 3: Hydration along with a rich diet
By nourishing your body from the inside, you can have healthy, radiant, pigmentation-free skin. Including a diverse range of fruits, pulses, yoghurt, low-fat milk, cheese, plant-based milk, and nuts in your diet is a great way to ensure that you are getting a sufficient supply of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 and iron, particularly, are crucial for healthy skin. Non-vegetarians can incorporate fish, eggs, and red meat into their meals.
However, it’s not enough to simply include these nutrients in your diet — adequate hydration is crucial in circulating these vitamins and minerals throughout your body and reducing the severity of pigmentation. Increasing Vitamin C intake by consuming citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens can help reduce pigmentation and enhance your skin’s overall appearance too. A common practice is bleaching pigmented knuckles at beauty parlours to lighten the skin, but such treatments overlook the underlying cause of this issue, which is Vitamin B12 deficiency. At the least, you can include an apple in your diet. Not only will it help you keep the doctor away, but it can also aid in keeping pigmentation at bay.
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Hack 4: Use mulberry and Vitamin C-infused products
An effective method of combatting pigmentation on lips and knuckles is to use beauty products infused with mulberry extracts or Vitamin C. These are miraculous ingredients that can brighten and revitalise the skin, leaving it more radiant and youthful. Invest in creams or serums enriched with these potent elements and you can see diminished pigmentation on your lips and knuckles.
Hack 5: The magic of some good old glycerine
Nurturing the delicate skin on your knuckles necessitates extra care and attention. One such method is to turn to the time-tested benefits of glycerine. A humble bottle of glycerine, when combined with crushed camphor and shaken well, can yield an efficacious concoction that can work wonders in reducing pigmentation. Simply apply this elixir on your knuckles twice a day, both in the morning and evening, to experience its magic. The glycerine will soothe and nourish your skin, while the camphor will help in reducing the appearance of pigmentation.
Some targeted treatments
Regular smokers tend to develop darker lips over time. But genetics can also be a factor behind pigmented lips, and some targeted treatments can help. One such treatment is the Q Switched 532nm laser. It can be remarkably effective, especially when used in combination with a dermal/epidermal chemical peel, depending on the depth of the pigment in the skin. It is important to note that these treatments should only be performed by a trained dermatologist in their office. Alternatively, injecting glutathione or tranexamic acid directly on the lips and knuckles can also prove to be quite effective in reducing pigmentation.
Pigmentation can be a frustrating issue to deal with. Protecting your lips from the sun, quitting smoking, using lip brightening treatments, and seeking professional advice can significantly reduce pigmentation and help you achieve brighter, more even lips.
Dr Deepali Bhardwaj is a dermatologist, anti-allergy specialist, laser surgeon and internationally trained aesthetician. She tweets @dermatdoc. Views are personal.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)