The skin has wonderful protective responses. In the deeper layers of the epidermis are cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its colour. Melanin actually protects the skin from the sun’s radiation. It increases on exposure to the sun and moves up, or is transferred to the upper layers of the skin to the skin-surface. That is why the skin gets tanned on sun-exposure.
During winter, we love to bask in the sun. This not only causes the skin to become tanned, but exposure to the ultra-violet rays can also lead to dark patches or pigmentation of the skin, because the melanin is transferred in an uneven manner. The cause may be an internal one, but sun-exposure makes it visible on the face in the form of dark patches. Repeated exposure to the sun causes the patches to become more apparent and persistent. In winter, the skin also loses moisture and becomes dry. This makes the patches even more visible on the skin surface.
The first aspect of the treatment is protection from the sun. Actually, as part of the treatment, one should try to avoid sun-exposure as far as possible. Physical protection is the only answer, with an umbrella or hat, and also by applying a sunscreen before going out in the sun. Select a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 20. The sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before sun-exposure, to allow it time to be absorbed by the skin. It should be reapplied if you are in the sun for longer than an hour. The effects of the sun increase near water bodies and snow, as they reflect the sun’s radiation. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to protect the skin and re-apply the sun screen after 20 to 30 minutes.
During winter, the skin should be kept moisturized at all times, especially if it is a normal to dry skin. At night, after cleansing, apply a nourishing cream and massage it on the skin with a few drops of water. This helps to improve the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
The use of scrubs and masks also help to remove dead skin cells and their contained pigment. This helps the dark patches to gradually become lighter. External care, itself, can remove pigmentation permanently, provided protective care is followed afterwards. Even when the pigmented patches disappear, one should continue to use a sunscreen. In fact, the use of a sunscreen has become an important part of modern cosmetic-care, to protect the skin from problems and premature ageing.
Here are some home remedies:
Scrub: Mix 3 tablespoons almond meal (ground almonds) with half cup yogurt (curd). Apply on the face and neck. Rub gently, especially on the dark patches and wash off. It also helps to remove tan.
For dry skin, add half teaspoon til oil to a little milk and apply on the face. Wipe off with moist cotton wool after 15 minutes.
For sunburn: Actually, cold milk applied daily, using cotton wool, not only helps to soothe the skin, but also keeps it soft. It also makes the skin colour lighter over a period of time, if used daily.
For dark patches: Mix together a big pinch of coarse salt with a cream. Apply only on the areas with the dark patches or spots and rub gently. Wash off. Then apply cold milk and wash off after 15 minutes. Do this twice a week.
For dark spots: Add a pinch of turmeric (haldi) to curd and apply daily on the entire face. Wash it off after 20 to 30 minutes.
Mask: Mix 3 teaspoons oatmeal with ripe papaya pulp and one teaspoon curd into a thick paste. Apply and wash off after 20 minutes. This mask suits both dry and oily skins.