Published on June 28, 2023
They say that scars are a sign of strength and resilience. But they can also be a source of your insecurities, especially if you develop scar hyperpigmentation.
Dark, hyperpigmented scars are more noticeable than ordinary scars. They also tend to be more stubborn. As such, their psychological effects are much worse.
The good news is you don’t have to suffer from dark scars anymore. There are now lots of ways to get rid of scar hyperpigmentation. From home remedies to more intensive cosmetic procedures, lightening your scars is easier than you think.
But first, you need to understand why scars become hyperpigmented.
What Causes Scar Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation happens when melanin congregates in a particular area. Melanin is a substance responsible for our body’s pigmentation. The more melanin your body produces, the darker your hair, eyes, and skin will be.
When a scar first develops, it’s usually pink or red. But if your body produces more melanin, they tend to darken. This change in color can be caused by various factors, such as:
1. Sun damage
We don’t have to tell you that the sun’s UV rays are bad news for your skin. It not only speeds up aging but can also boost melanin production, leading to hyperpigmentation.
2. Hormonal changes
Your hormones can also affect your body’s melanin production. That’s why changing hormone levels can also lead to increased melanin levels.
3. Aggressive skincare treatments
Some types of skin care treatments can erode your skin’s natural barrier. This makes it more prone to sun damage, causing it to produce more melanin.
Have you noticed that people who smoke tend to have a bluish or gray tinge on their skin? That’s because smoking promotes melanin production in the skin, causing scars to darken.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens when the skin produces more melanin after it’s irritated or injured. So if your scar is caused by an infection or injury, it’s more likely to develop hyperpigmentation.
6. Medical conditions
Certain medical conditions like Addison’s disease and hemochromatosis can cause your skin to go into melanin production overdrive.
7. Poor wound care
Scars form when a wound heals. However, if the wound does not heal properly, the scar can become pigmented. Experts are still not sure why this happens, but many believe that it’s a result of complications during wound healing.
How to Lighten Hyperpigmented Scars
Now that you know the risk factors causing scar hyperpigmentation, here are some ways to get rid of those pesky dark scars:
Less severe hyperpigmentation can usually be treated with home remedies, such as:
1. Exfoliating solutions
In most cases of hyperpigmentation, the discoloration is limited to the topmost layer of the skin. So exfoliating or sloughing off that layer can lighten dark spots and scars.
There are lots of exfoliating solutions in the market. Depending on your skin type and the severity of the discoloration, you can use one that has either AHA or BHA. Though more people agree that AHA tends to be more effective and doesn’t irritate the skin.
2. Whitening creams
Skin-lightening creams can also be very effective in treating skin hyperpigmentation. They contain ingredients that specifically target melanin cells and regulate your body’s melanin production.
3. Vitamin C supplements
Thanks to its ability to inhibit melanin production, vitamin C is widely used in dermatology to treat hyperpigmentation. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C is usually applied topically. But if you want better results, you can also take it in supplement form.
4. Whitening scrubs
Whitening scrubs not only exfoliate your skin. They can also provide skin-lightening effects, making them effective for dark scars.
You can buy this from your local drugstore or go the DIY route. If you prefer the latter, there are lots of recommendations for homemade scrubs online.
5. Eat fruits rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants not only help your body fight free radicals. It can also interrupt melanin production, giving you brighter skin.
If the discoloration is severe or you’re looking for faster and more effective ways to get rid of dark spots, you can also consider these cosmetic procedures:
As its name suggests, microdermabrasion works by causing micro abrasions in your skin. Your body will treat these abrasions as injuries and will work overtime to heal them. It will shed off the injured layer and create a new one with fewer blemishes and imperfections.
This is why microdermabrasion is usually effective for discolorations that only reach as far as the epidermis.
It’s also a non-invasive and in-office procedure, so there is minimal downtime. You can go back to your usual activities immediately after the procedure.
2. Chemical Peels
Don’t be intimidated by its name. Chemical peels are just more intense versions of the exfoliating solutions you have at home. The procedure involves using acids to peel away layers of your skin and reveal the new and unblemished skin underneath.
There are different types of chemical peels depending on your needs.
Light chemical peels only get rid of the skin’s top layer and are best for superficial scarring. While medium and deep chemical peels work best for scars that go deeper than the epidermis.
Depending on the type of chemical peel you get, the recovery period can range from a day to a few weeks.
3. Laser resurfacing
As you may have guessed, this procedure uses beams of light to remove layers of your skin. In short, it’s an exfoliation procedure that uses lasers.
There are two types of laser resurfacing: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative laser resurfacing is more intensive and can peel away even the deepest layers of your skin. While non-ablative only targets the dermis and causes minimal side effects.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio has been writing about health and beauty topics for years. As an experienced writer, she makes sure to only use information from reputable sources and peer-reviewed studies. Her writing has also appeared on various US-based sites.