We spend a lot of time and effort on our skincare routine. However, our lips don’t nearly get enough attention and the TLC they deserve and no, slathering a chapstick on to the go does not count. The skin on our lips is thinner than the rest of the body and more prone to hyperpigmentation. Different kinds of hyperpigmentation are usually sun patches caused due to excessive exposure to sunlight, melasma patches caused by hormonal changes, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to acne. However, since the skin on the lips is not the same as the rest of the body, it does not face the same kind of pigmentation. It is fragile and more exposed to saliva, which is dehydrating. The discolouration usually occurs around the edges or on the insides of the lips near the mouth. So what causes it, and how do we treat it? We got expert opinions because who doesn’t want a healthy pout?
What Causes Lip Pigmentation?
“The lips can darken due to hyperpigmentation caused by the excessive production of melanin. One of the very common causes of discolouration of lips is vitamin B12 and iron deficiency,” says Dr Neha Mittal Batra, cosmetic physician & facial aesthetics expert, Dermaworld Skin & Hair Clinic, New Delhi.
Saliva is a highly dehydrating substance. Frequent biting and licking cause the lips to chap. It is believed that saliva hydrates dry lips, but it does exactly the opposite. To avoid dryness, moisturise the lips with a natural lip balm.
Medication And Diseases
“Some medical diseases, such as endocrine disorders, including Addison’s disease and hyperthyroidism, can result in lip pigmentation. Additionally, some drug reactions brought on by an allergy to a medication can contribute to hyperpigmentation on the lips,” explains Dr Janet Alexander Castelino, founder of DermaZeal Clinic.
Smoking is the most common cause on the list, especially if done regularly. It will change the lip colour in no time since tobacco leads to discoloured lips.
The chemicals and fragrances in lipsticks, lip glosses and other cosmetic products can trigger an allergic reaction which can cause dark patches on the lips.
Just like the pigmentation on our facial skin, excessive sun exposure can also cause dark spots on the lips. Using an unscented lip balm with an SPF is recommended to avoid patchy lips.
How To Treat Lip Pigmentation?
People with lip-licking habits often get hyperpigmentation from skin inflammation, so avoid doing it. If the hyperpigmentation is a result of an allergic reaction from cosmetics, medication or food, it will resolve on its own in a few months. “Nourish your lips with chemical-free products, and exfoliate your lips twice a week,” says Dr Neha. Dr Janet adds, “Avoiding smoking will help prevent discolouration.” If your lip hyperpigmentation is due to smoking, it’s less likely to resolve if it is continued. Apparently, citrus foods like oranges also contribute to lip pigmentation; Dr Janet recommends sipping citrus juices through a straw, so they do not come in contact with your lips. She adds, “Ingredients like kojic acid, lactic acid and ferulic acid can be used to reverse lip pigmentation, provided they are prescribed by a dermatologist,” says Dr Neha. She goes on to explain that options like chemical peels, lip tattooing and laser treatment can also be explored for quicker results.