Dark spots are due to the natural pigment called melanin that is present in the skin. Melanin also protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Sometimes, the melanocytes that produce melanin may produce more melanin in certain parts of the skin leading to dark spots. Skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation are also referred to as dark spots, but dark spots are just one form of skin pigmentation.
Causes of dark spots
Hormonal changes are a major cause of dark spots, especially among women. A type of skin pigmentation called melasma appears in the form of dark spots on the cheeks or forehead.
Sun exposure: Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun causes dark spots. This can be prevented by healthy sun screen lotions and other sun protections like umbrella, etc.
Inflammation: Skin inflammation or injuries to the skin also lead to dark spots. Dark spots are also caused due to acne or eczema.
Irritation due chemicals: Sometimes, certain products like face creams or perfumes that don’t suit you cause skin irritation, leading to dark spots.
Diabetes and side effects of medication: Sometimes, diabetes can cause dark spots and patches. Besides, certain medications such as NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that cause side effects lead to dark spots.
Ayurveda and dark spots
Ayurvedic texts mention a variety of skin problems including hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Ayurvedic text Yoga Ratnakar mentions hyperpigmentation correlated to vyanga, nyasha, neelika—the three skin conditions categorised as minor diseases. According to Ayurveda, when aggravated Pitta dosha dries up with blood in the skin, dark spots are caused.
Nyasha occurs in any part of the body except the face. It is a patch on the skin black or brownish-black in colour. Vyanga occurs when Vata dosha and Pitta dosha become vitiated due to anger or excessive physical activity. These vitiated doshas form dark spots. When a patch on the face becomes extremely black it is called neelika.
Ayurvedic tips to get rid of dark spots
Dark spots are quite tough to remove by just applying creams or lotions. Ayurveda says to treat dark spots first we have to identify which dosha—Vata or Pitta is in imbalance. Then a proper diet needs to be taken to balance the dosha. Ayurveda recommends drinking lots of water, and including fruits, legumes, eggs, garlic, and onion in the diet as these foods help in preventing dark spots.
Many herbs are used to treat dark spots. These herbs are used as the main ingredients to make some oils that are effective in removing dark spots. Some of these are:
Kumkumadi taila is prescribed for pigmented, damaged, and aging skin. This Ayurvedic treatment is perfect in removing dark spots. It contains saffron that helps in repairing pigmentation.
Nalpamaradi taila is powerful de-tanning oil, which is made of sesame oil, vetiver, turmeric, gooseberry, and Indian madder. Turmeric has antioxidant properties that remove dark spots.
Jwalini taila is excellent in treating sun tan and dark spots. The oil contains herbs that are processed in coconut milk and sesame oil.
Develop healthy skincare habits: It is always better to have some regular skincare habits that will prevent dark spots from coming in the first place. Whenever you go out in the sun, use a good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 20 to prevent the appearance of dark spots. Reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours when in the sun.
Eat healthy: A balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle promote healthy skin and prevent dark spots from appearing on the skin. Eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins particularly vitamin C, and minerals.
Quit smoking: Studies have found that smoking cigarettes have a direct link with dark spots coming on the skin.
Make a paste with turmeric, curd and besan and apply it on the skin.
Tomato paste is rich in lycopene that protects the skin from sun damage.
Manjistha is a herb that is a blood purifier and can treat the skin from within. With its sweet, bitter, and acidic taste, it can pacify Pitta.
Masoor dal (red lentils) is a good depigmentation treatment agent. Soak the dal and make a paste and apply on the face.
Sandalwood: Mix sandalwood powder with orange zest and orange juice to make a paste. Apply it on the face.
Saffron is an excellent natural ingredient in reducing dark spots. Soak a few strands of saffron in water with a little turmeric powder. Apply the paste on your face