Grooming is an essential part of most of our beauty regimes. Of all the parts of our body, looking after our private areas can be the most difficult. This is because skin down there is sensitive and prone to rashes, allergic reactions and dark spots. Dark skin in our intimate area is something most of us struggle with at some point in our lives. The beauty industry’s impossible standards when it comes to this can be a cause of stress and insecurity as well.
While it’s absolutely natural to have dark skin in our private areas, there are a few medical causes of it that must be considered.
Medical Causes Of Dark Skin In Private Areas
The overarching cause of dark private skin is a condition called Acanthosis Nigricans. This causes darkening and thickening of the skin almost to the point of it being velvety. There are several causes of Acanthosis Nigricans-the most common being obesity. Others include hyperinsulinaemia, cushing syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), total lipodystrophy, crouzon syndrome, hormone treatments, insulin, glandular disorders, corticosteroids, and heredity (African roots).1 2
While Acanthosis Nigricans is not very serious, rare cases turn out to be tumor related and need medical attention. It’s always best to check with a professional to eliminate these causes of dark skin so as to get the best possible solution to your skin woe.
Dark skin that is not the result of a medical condition is often attributed to bad eating habits, smoking, excessive sweating and razors. However, there is no scientific evidence to back these claims.
Dermatologists generally prescribe lightening creams, while beauty salons suggest bleach. If you’d rather try something natural, we have 6 ways to do it.
Natural Ways To Lighten Dark Private Skin
1. Massage The Area With Aloe Vera Gel
From soothing burns to treating skin allergies- Aloe Vera is the go-to solution for most skin problems. Studies have linked its active ingredient aloin to skin lightening and depigmentation.3
How To Use: You could buy the gel from a store or slice open a leaf and scoop out the gel yourself. Apply it on the area for 20 minutes and wash it off.
2. Give Mulberry Extract A Shot
Although native to China, mulberry extract has gained popularity in the West owing to its skin-lightening properties. Studies have shown that the extract derived from mulberry leaves inhibits melanin and skin darkening.4 Its effects, however, are not as significant as that of kojic acid which is often prescribed for skin lightening. On the flip side, mulberry extract is less likely to cause skin irritation.
How To Use: Add mulberry oil to a base oil like coconut oil and massage it on your skin for 20 minutes before a shower.
3. Exfoliate With Soy Milk And Baking Soda
Baking soda is a staple across most kitchens and beauty regimes. It’s soft granular texture works well for gentle exfoliation. Proteins in soybeans (Bowman-Birk inhibitor and soybean trypsin inhibitor) help in depigmentation of the skin by inhibiting or reducing the transfer of melanin.5
How To Use: Make a paste of baking soda and soy milk and gently scrub the pigmented area. Leave it on for 5 minutes and wash it off.
4. Use A Papaya-Citrus Pack
Papaya has featured in fruit bowls, face packs and funky recipes but it’s also very effective in skin-lightening. The fruit contains an enzyme called papain which gently exfoliates dead skin cells and reveals brighter skin. While both orange and green papaya are effective, the latter contains more of the enzyme. Citrus fruits, meanwhile, contain vitamin C that inhibit the production of pigments and act as a natural bleach.6 However, they are known to cause itchiness, rashes and skin allergies so if you decide to give the old ‘lemon-to-bleach’ trick a shot, it’s best to add it to something moisturizing.
How To Use: Add lime juice to papaya paste and apply it on the affected area for 15 minutes before washing it off.
5. Use Licorice Root Regularly
Licorice inhibits a melanin-producing enzyme called tyrosinase and is hence effective in skin lightening. It’s often used to fade suntans as well.7
How To Use: Add licorice root powder to water or rose water to make a paste. Apply this on the affected area for 15 minutes and wash it off.
As with most skin remedies, a patch-test is important. To ensure that you don’t add to your skin woes, test these remedies on your wrist to check for allergic reactions. Once you’ve found a remedy that works for you, follow it up regularly to see results.
|↑1||Acanthosis nigricans. New Zealand Dermatological Society.|
|↑2||Acanthosis Nigricans. American Osteopathic College Of Dermatology.|
|↑3||Ali, Sharique A., Jyoti M. Galgut, and Ram K. Choudhary. “On the novel action of melanolysis by a leaf extract of Aloe vera and its active ingredient aloin, potent skin depigmenting agents.” Planta medica 78, no. 08 (2012): 767-771.|
|↑4||Lee, Sang Hee, Sang Yoon Choi, Hocheol Kim, Jae Sung Hwang, Byeong Gon Lee, Jian Jun Gao, and Sun Yeou Kim. “Mulberroside F isolated from the leaves of Morus alba inhibits melanin biosynthesis.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 25, no. 8 (2002): 1045-1048.|
|↑5||Paine, Christine, Elizabeth Sharlow, Frank Liebel, Magdalena Eisinger, Stanley Shapiro, and Miri Seiberg. “An alternative approach to depigmentation by soybean extracts via inhibition of the PAR-2 pathway.” Journal of investigative dermatology 116, no. 4 (2001): 587-595.|
|↑6, ↑7||Ando, Hideya, Hirofumi Kondoh, Masamitsu Ichihashi, and Vincent J. Hearing. “Approaches to identify inhibitors of melanin biosynthesis via the quality control of tyrosinase.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology 127, no. 4 (2007): 751-761.|