Contrary to what many people may expect, pigmentation around the mouth is a common manifestation of hyperpigmentation. While this is typically harmless, it can cause concerns over appearance, typically in women. This is because pigmentation around the mouth can appear as a shadowed “mustache.”
This hyperpigmentation can be the cause of underlying lifestyle factors and health conditions an individual may experience. These dark patches do not require treatment unless medically necessary, but they can nevertheless cause self-esteem levels to drop in some patients.
1. Common Causes of Pigmentation
Our skin derives its color from melanin, which is produced by melanocytes in our bodies. When an excessive amount of melanin is made, this results in pigmentation. Below are some common reasons this may occur:
Melasma: This condition is caused by hormonal changes, so it is much more common in women than in men. Melasma is also known as the mask of pregnancy and can be a side practical of taking birth control pills. Individuals with melasma can experience dark patches of pigmentation on their faces, including around the mouth.
Sun exposure: Many people may not know this, but sunscreen has to be applied to the skin around your mouth as well. If you have not been doing so, this could be a reason pigmentation has developed around your mouth. Your risk of developing dark spots also increases with age, and sun exposure can also worsen the effects of melasma.
Skin trauma: If you are prone to acne outbreaks or have otherwise suffered some trauma to the face, the pigmentation around your mouth could be due to a condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The good news is that this type of hyperpigmentation typically resolves by itself, but it will take some time. Skin trauma can also be caused by using products that are unsuitable for your skin.
2. Are You at Higher Risk of Pigmentation Around the Mouth?
Although anyone can experience pigmentation around the mouth, specific individuals are more prone to it than others. This includes darker-skinned individuals – the same goes for hyperpigmentation in other parts of the body, not just around the mouth. This is because the bodies of darker-skinned individuals produce more melanin in the first place.
Over the years, sun exposure and lifestyle habits have had the time to wreak their effects on the skin, resulting in a higher instance of hyperpigmentation. Individuals who frequently receive sun exposure and do not practice good skin protective habits may also notice a problem with pigmentation around the mouth. Older adults may also see that they are more prone to hyperpigmentation compared to younger individuals.
3. Treating Pigmentation Around the Mouth
Fortunately, pigmentation around the mouth is typically not a medical concern. However, they can cause individuals to suffer from low self-esteem. When that is the case, you will be glad to know there are treatment options available. Due to the sensitive nature of the skin in this area, it’s always best to proceed with caution and under the advice of a dermatologist.
Below are some treatment options to consider:
- Skin brightening creams and serums – before using any product on the skin around your mouth, it is recommended to conduct a patch test.
- Prescription creams that can be obtained from a physician or dermatologist
- Laser therapy
- Chemical peels – while the effect is instant, keep in mind that it may not be long-lasting. Chemical peels remove the topmost layer of skin to reveal a new and unblemished layer underneath, but as long as the underlying cause of your pigmentation is still there, it will continue to come back.
- … and more!
Depending on the cause of your pigmentation, it may resolve by itself in some cases, without any action required on your part. This can be after your skin trauma has healed sufficiently or once you stop using a particular product. Pregnant women may also find that the pigmentation goes away by itself shortly after childbirth. If you decide to seek treatment for the pigmentation around your mouth, the best thing you can do is ensure you are making a well-informed decision for your skin type and concerns.