Why is my private area dark?
If you are experiencing dark spots and hyperpigmentation anywhere on your body, you are not alone. Whether it’s on your face, underarms, legs, bikini line, tush, chest, etc, - dark spots and hyperpigmentation are normal, natural, and very common. However, just because dark spots are common doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat prevent them if you want to. We sat down with Dr. Ruth Arumala, a board-certified Gynecologist, to get an expert’s insight on all things dark spots.
Dr. Arumala covers what darkening private parts, what causes them and how to treat & prevent dark spots in general. This blog will also include a list of ingredients that help to fade dark private parts over time.
What causes darkening and dark spots?
Vaginal darkening or dark spots refer to patches of skin that are darker in color than the skin surrounding it. The contrast of light and dark patches creates the appearance of an uneven skin tone. This, very common, skin condition affects all races.
What causes dark spots?
Dark spots are caused by the overproduction of melanin in the skin; melanin is a brown pigment that attempts to protect the skin from harsh effects such as wounds and/or UV radiation. When the body produces extra melanin, portions of the pigment will inevitably be deposited in the same area. These melanin deposits create the dark spots that appear on the surface of the skin.
Why does excess melanin create dark spots and not an even darker complexion?
According to AEDIT, one’s skin tone will have an even color “when the body is processing normal levels of melanin”. However, if there is excess melanin production in the body, the melanin will disperse unevenly forming melanin deposits which appear to be dark spots on the surface (to read more about uneven skin tone/texture click here).
What triggers dark spots?
Melanin deposits create the dark spots that appear on the surface of the skin. Increased melanin production can be triggered by:
Sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentation. Sunlight exposure can stimulate melanocytes skin cells that attempt to give the skin protection from excessive sun exposure; melanocytes produce the melanin pigment. Melanin is responsible for making the skin appear more tan, but when melanocytes produce too much melanin, the distribution becomes uneven, creating patches of the skin’s surface a darker colour.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by abrasions to the skin's surface; including but not limited to acne, eczema or skin injuries. The inflammation that results from an injury triggers melanocyte skin cells to the area of injury. The excessive concentration of melanocyte will leave a darker and discoloured patch around the area where the wound once was.
When one shaves, the hair follicle is irritated and will balloon out to protect the skin. This reaction creates pimple-like bumps which later lead to acne scars, dark spots and discolouration.
Click here to find out more about why shaving causes dark spots.
Frequent friction causes dark spots. You may notice where your skin touches (i.e. the thighs, underarms etc.) there are dark areas and hyperpigmentation - that’s from friction.
Age can bring about dark spots on the skin. Though age spots are most commonly experienced past the age of 50, they can also occur at a younger age. Age spots form as a result of an overproduction of melanin skin cells. After years of sun exposure, over time the body will produce higher concentrations of melanin which eventually create melanin deposits or dark spots.
Dr. Ruth Arumala noted that dark spots can also be triggered by hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances triggered by:
Temporary Physiological States: i.e. pregnancy, breast feeding etc.
Acanthosis nigrican: Creates a velvety discolouration on the skin - this discolouration is a sign that something needs to be checked in the body (i.e. abnormal blood sugar, precursor to diabetes, stomach cancer).
New Medication: Medications like birth control can cause discolouration. If you are experiencing dark spots and hyperpigmentation after starting a new medication, it is worthwhile consulting your healthcare provider to see if the medication is the cause.
The common denominator of each cause is excess melanin in the skin.
How to treat dark spots
Naturally fading dark spots and sun spots requires a consistent body care routine. The key is having a routine that: 1) breaks up the melanin deposits the surface of the skin; and 2) lightens and brightens the dark spots.
Click here to find the full skincare routine to eradicate dark spots.
How to prevent dark spots:
Dr. Arumala outlined a couple things that you can do to prevent future occurrences of dark spots.
Don’t remove body hair
By not removing body hair you prevent any risk of irritation and by the same token you prevent any risk of dark spots. If this is not an option for you, there are other solutions!
Safe ways to remove hair
Trim - Using a trimmer is a great option to remove the hair and minimize irritation to the skin. Bushbalm offers the Francesca Trimmer which is the perfect tool for close grooming and/or pre-wax preparation.
Click here to learn about how to use the Francesca Trimmer.
Use skin protectant after hair removal
Using a skin protectant after hair removal is such a crucial step to prevent hyperpigmentation.
I personally use Bermuda Oil, it is beautiful when it comes to treating the dark spots and discoloration. Bermuda Oil is a natural and effective way to reduce the appearance of dark spots over time. - Dr. Arumala
What ingredients help to naturally break up dark spots?
Lemon Essential Oil
Lightweight and gentle, this star ingredient is a natural exfoliant that breaks down dark spots to reveal lighter and brighter skin.
Lemon Essential Oil tightens, tones and lifts the skin. This ingredient acts as an exfoliant as it breaks down pigmented melanin deposits (dark spots). In doing so, lemon essential oil decreases hyperpigmentation and reveals lighter and brighter skin. Due to its strong antioxidant properties, lemon essential oil helps to repair damaged cells and tissue caused by harmful external agents such as harsh UV rays, acne, and scarring.
High in vitamin E and phenolic antioxidants, Grapeseed Oil protects and preserves the skin's soft and supple appearance.
These properties work together to : 1) diffuse skin irritations such as acne breakouts; 2) protect the skin from the external environment like sun damage; 3) even out the skin tone; and 4) give the skin a softer feel and more supple appearance. This lightweight oil penetrates the skin to and activates Vitamin E and C in the skin which protects and preserves the skin from external agents.
Fractionated Coconut Oil
Infused with nourishing medium-chain fatty acids, fractionated coconut oil creates a natural oil barrier to keep the skin looking plump, healthy and radiant. This ingredient protects the skin and minimizes irritation due to hair removal, friction, ingrown hairs.
Fractionated Coconut Oil is the liquid form of coconut oil. This ingredient consists of nourishing medium-chain fatty acids that have antimicrobial properties which treat skin irritations such as acne and scars. These fatty acids help the skin produce a natural oil barrier that keeps the skin feeling smooth and looking plump and healthy. Fractionated Coconut Oil is a lightweight moisturizing agent that easily absorbs into the skin without clogging pores and leaving an oily residue.
Tea Tree Oil
Packed with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties, Tea Tree Oil is a natural healer. Tea tree oil helps to naturally treat skin irritations. This ingredient provides a soothing sensation to calm redness, swelling and inflammation. The benefits of Tea Tree Oil
include, but are not limited to: 1) preventing and reducing the appearance of scars and blemishes; 2) calming redness, swelling and inflammation; and 3) balancing the oils in the skin.
Rich in fatty acids and packed with Vitamin E, A and D, Jojoba Oil soothes the skin and relieves irritation and discomfort. Jojoba oil is an antioxidant rich in fatty acids and infused with Vitamin E, Vitamin A and Vitamin D. This ingredient is known for its soothing properties and calming sensation that temporarily relieves irritation and discomfort. Jojoba oil comes in the form of a wax that coats the top layer of the skin in order to retain the moisture and prevent the skin from drying out. Jojoba oil also has the unique ability to mimic the body's natural moisturizing properties and balance the oil in all skin types. As such, this ingredient works to remove excess dirt and oil from the surface of the skin, minimize the appearance of pores and keep the skin feeling clean.