Skin with a bronze or darkened hue is highly coveted by men and women across the world, especially in the western world, with predominantly Caucasian fair skinned populations. People of all ages have been known to spend several hours in the sun or on the beach, just to achieve the perfect sun-tanned appearance. This is probably why the market is full of sun tan lotions, tanning parlors and other products or techniques that can help acquire an even and a natural tan. However, there are many other factors too that could cause your skin to become darker in color. Unfortunately, not a lot of people realize the difference between a suntan and a skin problem.
The cells of our skin contain a substance known as melanocytes, which produce melanin. It is the presence of melanin that gives the skin its color. A lack of melanin or low levels of it can cause your skin to appear pale, which is known as hypopigmentation. However, in case there is a high amount of melanin present in the skin, the skin gets a darker color, which is known as hyperpigmentation. Another factor that could cause your skin to darken faster than normal is overactive melanocytes. In case your skin begins to get dark because of hyperpigmentation, the discoloration usually begins at the knuckles, elbows as well as the knees and spreads to the other parts of the body from there. At times, you may also see bronze or darkened patches on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. The degree of discoloration could vary from person to person, based on the underlying causes.
The darkening of the skin may not necessarily be permanent at times. There are several conditions that could cause your skin to get darker for a certain period. For example, most women see changes in the tone of their skin during the course of pregnancy. However, after childbirth, the color of the skin usually returns to normal. Similarly, darkening of the skin because of hormonal imbalances or other short term conditions is also temporary. The color of the skin returns to normal once the condition is resolved.
Contrary to what many people believe, dark skin caused by hyperpigmentation is not exclusive to any specific race. People of all nationalities, living in just about any region could suffer from hyperpigmentation, which causes their skin to darken unevenly.
Fortunately, dark skin is not usually a symptom of a life-threatening health problem. However, in case there are other accompanying symptoms like fatigue, weakness, spells of depression or loss of appetite in addition to hyperpigmentation, it could be an indication of an underlying health condition that requires immediate medical attention.
For many of us darkening of the skin doesnt even raise an eyebrow, even though the darkening may be uneven. However, in most cases, darker skin caused by hyperpigmentation is uneven and appears in the form of dark patches on the joints, palms, soles and perhaps even the face. Some of the common symptoms of dark skin caused by hyperpigmentation include:
In case your skin is naturally dark due to the presence of melanin then the symptoms may not be noticeable immediately. However, over a period of time, as the discoloration spreads or becomes darker, it is bound to become evident.
Unfortunately, darkening of the skin is not always indicative of hyperpigmentation; there are a few other skin conditions, such as lupus and rosacea too that could lead to a darkening of the skin. Therefore, it could be a bit of the challenge to diagnose the condition accurately, without seeking medical assistance. If darkening of the skin is caused by some other health problems then it is very likely that you will also notice some other symptoms like a rash, swelling, reddening, acne, tiredness and weakness along with the darkening of the skin. It is absolutely essential to consult a doctor in case you see accompanying symptoms like:
In most instances, darkening of the skin is fairly harmless and is not a major cause for concern. Some of the most common factors that have been known to lead to discoloration or darkening of the skin include:
However, not all causes for dark skin are simple and minor. Some of the conditions that could lead to darkening of the skin may require immediate medical attention and treatment. Some of the more serious causes for darker skin include:
When it comes to treating dark skin or discolored patches on the skin, most health experts will advise you to first determine the factors that are causing the problem. In case your skin is producing too much melanin mainly due to simple factors like excess exposure to the sun, you may be advised to use simple home remedies to regain your original skin color. Given below are some of the most commonly recommended natural home remedies for dark skin:
In addition to the remedies for dark skin mentioned above, you also need to get an adequate amount of sleep, rest and exercise a day, as they all play an important role in keeping your skin healthy. Unhealthy practices like smoking and the use of illegal drugs should be strictly avoided.
Contrary to what many people believe, there are no miracle foods that will lighten your skin immediately or get rid of dark patches and blemishes overnight. However, if youd like your skin to maintain a healthy glow, it is important for you to follow a balanced and nutritious diet at all times.
If you wish to have healthy and glowing skin your first concern should be your fluid intake, as you need to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. This will flush out the toxins from your body and at the same time will hydrate your skin internally, keeping it soft and supple. This reduces the possibility of discoloration, but does not rule it out completely.
Avoid eating any foods that are heavy, oily or spicy. These foods are difficult to digest and therefore build up the waste in the body, leading to many health problems that can also affect the skin. If you are trying to improve your skin tone, it is important to stay away from chocolates, caffeinated, aerated and alcoholic drinks.
Instead, increase your consumption of foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as they improve the health of your body, as well as your skin. Make sure that you eat a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat, dairy products, nuts, seeds, whole grains, cereals, beans and legumes.
Until a few years ago it was quite common to see people spend hours in the hot sun, just so that their skin could get the deep tan they so desired. However, in the last few years, people have realized that excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun could lead to skin problems, like cancer. Therefore, it is important to exercise some amount of caution when trying to get a tan. There are several tanning booths and salons that have cropped up over the country that can help you to get the skin color you desire quite swiftly. If you do wish to tan your skin naturally through sun exposure, it would be wise to protect your skin adequately, with a good sunscreen solution. Many people tend to confuse sunscreen with a sunblock, but they are actually quite different. A sunblock will prevent your skin from getting darker, whereas a sunscreen will filter the harsh rays of the sun, allowing your skin to get tanned, while minimizing the risks of cancer and other similar skin conditions.
Moreover, in case you are taking oral contraceptives or any other medication that you believe could be the cause of skin discoloration, it is important for you to consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives to the medication that you have been taking. However, it is imperative that you never make any changes to your prescribed medication (including their dosage), without getting a doctors approval first.
If you have a skin tone that is naturally dark, there is little you can do to lighten it. However, by keeping your skin clean and tending to it regularly, you can greatly improve the quality of your skin.