How can you permanently reduce melanin production
Is It Possible To Reduce Melanin Production Or Deposits For Lighter Skin?
What is melanin?
Melanin is the pigment that gives color to your skin, hair, and eyes. It is made by cells called melanocytes, which are located in the outer layer of the skin.
We all have roughly the same number of melanocytes. However, some people's cells produce more melanin than certain types of melanin than others. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin is.
Sometimes melanin can build up in some areas and cause darkening of the skin, which doctors may call hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is when parts of your skin are darker than others.
While it is possible to treat existing melanin deposits on site, there are risks and limitations. It is also possible to lower the production of melanin in the skin.
Read on to learn more about reducing melanin production and removing melanin buildup, including precautions and what to expect.
Can you remove existing melanin deposits?
There are several ways to reduce existing melanin build-up in the skin. It is best to consult a doctor for proper guidance on these methods.
During laser therapy, the upper layers of the skin are removed with a pulse of light. It decreases melanin in the treated areas. There are several types of laser treatments, including:
- Ablative lasers. These remove outer layers of skin and are ideal for severe discoloration.
- Non-ablative lasers. These are gentler than ablative lasers. They promote collagen growth, which allows new skin to form. Intense pulsed light (IPL) is one such treatment that uses pulses of light energy to target sunspots by heating and destroying the melanin, thereby removing the discolored spots.
- Q-switched ruby laser (QSRL). This uses a pulse of light to heat and dissolve the skin.
As with any medical procedure, laser therapy is not for everyone. It can also cause side effects such as discoloration, scarring, and infection. Ask a dermatologist if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
Topical creams or ointments
You can also use topical creams or ointments to lighten the skin. These products reduce the existing melanin in the areas where they are used.
Skin lightening products are available on prescription or over the counter (OTC). Usually a product contains one of the following ingredients:
- Kojic acid
- vitamin C
- Glycolic acid
- Azelaic acid
Many of them suppress tyrosinase, the main enzyme needed for melanin synthesis. This slows down melanin production and leads to lighter skin.
However, skin whitening products are known to cause side effects such as:
It is best to consult a dermatologist before using lightening creams or ointments.
Can You Slow Down Melanin Production In The Skin?
Methods for lowering melanin production do not involve medical treatments, but depend on your sun care habits and some natural remedies.
Sun protection and sun exposure
The purpose of melanin is to protect your skin from sun damage. When you are exposed to the sun, your skin produces even more melanin.
Wearing sunscreen will limit this process. Sunscreens protect the skin from UV rays, which slow down your melanin production.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best sun protection is:
- broad spectrum
- SPF 30 or higher
Sunscreens don't block 100 percent of the sun's UV rays. Also, to further limit the amount of melanin your skin produces, you should:
- Limit your sun exposure
- Stay indoors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun's rays are strongest
- Wear protective clothing such as sunglasses, long sleeves, and hats
- Avoid tanning beds
People claim that some natural remedies can lighten the skin. It is not clear how long it takes for these agents to work. Hence, it is important to be patient if you want to try them out. Plus, they are all temporary so you will have to keep using them on a routine basis.
According to a 2012 study in Phytotherapy Research, the active ingredient in turmeric can reduce melanin synthesis. This compound, called curcumin, inhibits tyrosinase. This suppresses the ability of melanocytes to make more melanin.
Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera can decrease melanin production after exposure to the sun. The plant contains aloesin, a compound that suppressed tyrosinase in a 2002 study in clinical and experimental dermatology.
However, a recent study from 2012 found that aloe vera did not have these effects.
Although the research is contradicting, users of aloe vera gel say it helps to lighten the skin.
People also use lemon juice to reduce skin pigmentation. This may be due to its high vitamin C content. According to a 2017 article in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vitamin C may reduce tyrosinase activity, which prevents melanin from forming.
Despite its potential anti-pigmentation effects, lemon juice can be harsh on the skin. Use only when diluted and avoid the sun after use.
When you apply a skin bleach like hydroquinone, the number of melanocytes in your skin will decrease. This can lead to lighter skin and a more even skin tone.
Green tea has a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). A 2015 study found that EGCG can prevent melanin buildup. It works by blocking an enzyme that is needed to make melanin.
Home Remedies That Should Be Avoided
Not all home remedies are created alike. Some agents can cause skin irritation, redness, or damage.
- Hydrogen peroxide
Is it possible to permanently reduce melanin production?
Every person's body continuously produces melanin. The amount is determined by genetics.
You can lighten and possibly remove existing hyperpigmentation, but it can come back. Without regular skin whitening treatments, it is not possible to permanently lower your body's melanin production.
Precautions against skin lightening
Skin lightening carries several risks. If you're trying to lower melanin, you may have:
- Higher chances of sun damage. Less melanin means less protection from the sun's rays. This increases the risk of wrinkles, uneven texture, and discoloration.
- Increased risk of skin cancer. The high risk of sun damage also increases the chances of developing skin cancer.
- Irritation and sensitivity. The actual process of skin lightening is tough on the skin. Many treatments can cause side effects such as redness, itching, and contact dermatitis.
Skin lightening treatments can temporarily reduce your skin's melanin production. Most of them suppress the enzyme that is needed to make melanin.
However, aside from wearing sunscreen and limiting sun exposure, you cannot lower your body's overall melanin production. A permanent reduction is not possible because melanin formation is genetically determined.
If you have hyperpigmentation, ask a doctor how melanin can be reduced in the affected areas. They can suggest the appropriate treatments or remedies for your needs.
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