Skin with excess melanin production is termed Melanated skin.
But what the heck is Melanin?
Melanin is a natural pigment found in the skin, hair & eyes of humans. It is made by skin cells called melanocytes.
So why are some people brown & some white? How does Melanin work in their cases?
Melanocytes are the same in every human body, but some people tend to make more melanin than others because of much greater tyrosinase (controls the production of melanin) & hence are brown with mostly dark eyes & hair. In the case of white people, their melanin production is low overall hence they have light-colored eyes, sometimes blonde hair & white skin.
On what factors do some people make less/more melanin by birth?
It honestly depends on your genes. If your parents tend to make more or less melanin, most likely you will too.
For more clarity, there are 3 types of Melanin
- It means brown/black pigment. It makes dark colors in the skin, hair & eyes. They are of 2 types, brown & black. When both mix, the hair color becomes either brown or black.
- A small amount of black Eumelanin in the absence of brown Eumelanin causes grey hair.
- A small amount of brown Eumelanin in the absence of black Eumelanin blonde hair.
- When you’re in the sun, your body makes more Eumelanin to protect you from harmful UV rays resulting in sun damage or hyperpigmented skin.
- Studies have shown a lower rate of skin cancer with more concentrated melanin or darker skin like Eumelanin.
- It means yellow/red pigment.
- It colors the pinkish parts of the body like lips, nipples & glans of the penis & vagina.
- You get rare red-colored hair when a small amount of brown eumelanin & red pheomelanin get mixed.
- Exposure of the skin to UV light does not increase Pheomelanin production as in the case of Eumelanin.
Neuromelanin is found in the brain. It isn’t involved in the colorings of the parts you see. Darker skin tone looks beautiful & also protects you from skin cancer but comes with its set of disorders
Skin conditions that impact mostly darker skin tone or melanated skin
- It’s a skin condition that looks like dark skin patches on the cheeks, upper lip & forehead.
- The pigment-producing cells in our body start producing more pigment. Researchers think it is caused by hormonal imbalance
- It can be for a short hormonal shift or can be seen at all stages of life.
- Cure- Skin lightening topical creams like retinoids, tranexamic acid, kojic acid, and chemical peels, or your dermatologist would know best. Do not forget to apply sunscreen in the daylight to save yourself from harmful UV rays. Carry it with you literally everywhere.
PIH (Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation)
- Darker skin tones are more prone to this. PIH is a result of any kind of injury to the skin like acne, burns, or insect bites.
- The little melanosomes are excessively full of pigments, almost equal to the verge of bursting & any kind of bump or as we read skin injury can make them leak all the pigment resulting in hyperpigmentation or the darker marks we see after acne
- Cure- Sun exposure will make pigmentation worse. So, sunscreen is the first step in treating hyperpigmentation. You can also use some serums or ingredients like Kojic acid, tranexamic acid, retinoids, chemical peels, alpha arbutin, Vitamin C, lactic acid, and bakuchiol.
Dermatosis papulose nigra
- The condition with harmless growths of mole or freckles grows on the cheeks and around the eyes.
- They usually start out as small flay brown lesions that slowly become larger in size with time.
- It’s not dangerous but some people opt out of treatment for cosmetic reasons.
- Treatment- The procedure is electrodesiccation. It is done by applying lidocaine which is a numbing agent. Next, a needle-shaped electrode is used to dry up the tissue using a high-frequency electric current at a very low setting. After the procedure, the moles or tags will slowly fall off in a couple of days.
- Treatment is permanent but there’s always a possibility of new growth in the neck or chest.
- It is an inflammatory skin condition caused by hair removal processes like shaving, also known as razor bumps.
- When the hair we shave starts to grow back & curves into the skin causing a foreign body reaction. It happens esp. with black people with their curly hair.
- It tends to be very itchy & can happen to men who shave their beards or women who shave their legs and bikini area.
- Cure- For women – Shave in the exact direction of your hair growth, not against it using a sharp multi-blade razor or waxing is a good option too. For men- Hold a warm compress or shave at the end of the shower. Why? The warmth & moisture causes the hair to swell & loosen up so that it doesn’t curve into your skin after shaving. Apply moisturizing shaving cream in the end & always use a sharp blade.
- It is a dense, thick & hard lump on the skin caused by the overgrowth of scar tissue.
- Again, African descent is at the highest risk for the development of keloids.
- It happens a lot on the earlobes esp. after getting the ears pierced due to the surgical slit or acne lesions.
- Keloids can be very itchy or painful in some cases & can carry aesthetic concerns on the body depending on the size & location of the scar.
- Treatment- Laser therapy, surgical removal, silicone gel sheets, freezing/cryosurgery, radiation treatments, ligatures or injection of corticosteroids. Discuss with your Dermat for the right treatment for you.
- A skin condition in which skin loses its natural pigment & body produces inflammatory T cells that attack its own melanocytes. It’s not contagious or life threatening but can affect a person’s physical appearance.
- It can occur to any age, race, or gender
- Sun protection is very important for people with vitiligo as the loss of melanin can make them burn more easily and they don’t get a permanent tattoo.
- Cause- Inherited predisposition combined with conditions like lupus or thyroid are few of the doctors believe.
- Treatment– Treatment depends on the age and how quickly the condition spreads. A few treatments are Light therapy, tacrolimus topical ointment, depigmentation procedure, skin grafting, blister grafting & cellular suspension transplant. Discuss all the potential side effects of any of the treatments you seek.
Some other disorders related to Melanin
- Albinism is a condition in humans with complete or partial absence of melanin pigment in skin, hair, and eyes. Skin tends to develop white patches all over the body.
- This condition is associated with a few vision defects like photophobia, nystagmus & amblyopia.
- It is also said to affect essential granules present in immune cells leading to an increased risk of infections in the body.
- Reason-It is considered to be a hereditary condition.
- Cure- There is no cure for albinism, but it can be managed through lifestyle management. Esp. Don’t forget to load up on sunscreen as the melanin is already low. Vision defects have possible surgery options like artificial divergence surgery, Kestenbaum surgery, etc. Consult & discuss with your doctor all the minute details of surgery you seek.
- A condition in which neuromelanin in your brain drops & the brain cells in the part called substantia nigra dies resulting in affecting the whole nervous system and the part of the body controlled by the nerves.
- The symptoms start slowly but worsen with time.
- Symptoms are – speech changes, impaired balance, stiffness or slowing of movements, decreased ability to blink, and smile, hard to write or move your arm, chewing & eating problems,
- Cause- Not guaranteed but doctors say it could be due to Heredity & Ongoing exposure to toxins like pesticides or herbicides. Also, depends on age factor (mostly develops after 60) & Male gender is more likely to develop this disease than women.
- Prevention Since there is no guaranteed result on the cause of the disease, there is unfortunately no prevention as such Aerobic exercises, a balanced healthy lifestyle, green tea, body massages, caffeine intake, and keeping a check on your essential vitamins in the body will always keep your health in check.
- More melanated skin tones will always act as a protective shield against toxic UV rays & skin cancer. Doesn’t mean you forget your hats, glasses, and sunblock on a sunny day.
- Darker skin tones have a very strong stratum corneum (protective outer layer of the skin which acts as a barrier between the skin & outside environment) which is why it does not develop wrinkles and fine lines as early as the lighter skin tones.
- Product suggestion for hyperpigmentation or melasma – Tranexamic serum, Retinoids, Kojic acid, Alpha Arbutin, Azelaic acid, Lactic acid, Mandelic Acid, Vitamin C, licorice root face masks, Chemical peels & Sunscreen with SPF minimum 30-50.
Love ~ Beauty Stroll