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Best Skin Lightening Treatment In Atlanta, GA

Best Skin Lightening Treatment In Atlanta

To understand skin lightening, you must first under what determines skin color. Skin color is determined by the amount of a natural pigment, melanin, which is found in the skin. Melanin is produced by skin cells found in the innermost layer of the skin called melanocytes. These cells produce melanin from an amino acid, tyrosine. The more melanin you have the darker your skin, conversely the less melanin that you have the lighter your skin is. Melanin is not only responsible for skin color but also determines our hair and eye color.

Types of Melanin and Skin Color

The three main types of melanin include eumelanin, pheomelanin, and neuromelanin.  Eumelanin is found in the hair, skin, and dark areas around the nipples. It is most abundant among people of color and provides black and brown pigment to the hair, skin, and eyes. This melanin absorbs harmful UV rays and protects against cell damage from UV light. Pregnancy, Addison’s disease,  hormone problems, birth control pills, skin injury, exposure to chemicals, and sun exposure can stimulate melanocytes and make your skin darker leading to skin discoloration and uneven skin tone.

Pheomelanin is also found in the hair and skin. This melanin creates red and pink colors. It is the main pigment found in redheads. This type of melanin is not as protective against UV- radiation-induced cancer as eumelanin.

Neuromelanin is a form of melanin found in different areas of the brain and loss of this melanin may cause several neurological disorders.

What Are Skin Lightening Treatments

Skin bleaching or lightening is a cosmetic treatment used to reduce skin discolorations and even out the color of the skin. Skin lightening creams are widely used worldwide either to attempt to remove localized dark patches caused by melasma, acne, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Over-the-counter and prescription skin lightening creams are the most commonly used treatment to lighten the skin.  Some people apply skin lightener to their entire body to change their complexion, but this can be very risky because these products often contain mercury and steroids which are powerful skin lightening agents but can damage your skin. Unfortunately, unregulated products are sold on the market that do not disclose their mercury and steroid content.  These ingredients can lead to mercury poisoning and skin damage with long-term use. The misuse of skin-lightening agents, particularly for the purpose of lightening one’s natural skin color, can result in multiple short- and long-term complications. Examples include irritant contact dermatitis, exogenous ochronosis, mercury toxicity, cutaneous atrophy, and adrenal insufficiency.

The use of mercury as an ingredient in skin lighteners is banned in the U.S. However, some skin lighteners produced outside the U.S.  and then sold in the U.S. may still contain mercury but not appear on the label.


Hydroquinone and Skin Lightening

The most widely used ingredient in skin lighteners sold in the United States is hydroquinone. The FDA regulates the use of hydroquinone in the U.S. Over-the-counter skin lighteners can contain up to 2% hydroquinone, however, doctors can prescribe higher doses. The use of hydroquinone should only be used under the supervision of a medically licensed doctor. It is recommended that hydroquinone be used for four to six months followed by a two-month to avoid adverse effects.  During this break, a  non-hydroquinone lightening cream can be prescribed by your doctor. Exogenous ochronosis is the main risk of continued use of hydroquinone. This results in an irregular blue-black staining affecting sun-exposed skin and nails. Hydroquinone’s initial effect of blocking pigment production is lost with prolonged application and sun stimulation. Therefore, it is important to take breaks from hydroquinone, wear a 30 or more SPF and avoid sun exposure when lightening your skin.  It is important to check with your doctor before using a product with hydroquinone and to follow the doctor’s directions exactly.

Corticosteroids and Skin Lightening

Another skin bleaching ingredient that may not be listed in OTC bleaching creams is corticosteroids. Topical corticosteroids are used as skin lighteners due to their potent bleaching action. They are thought to have their effects due to initial skin blanching due to vasoconstriction, slowing down skin cell turnover so reducing the number and activity of melanocytes (pigment cells) and reducing the production of precursor steroid hormones thus reducing the production of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH).

Topical corticosteroids are used by the medical profession for the treatment of various skin conditions including eczema, contact dermatitis, and psoriasis. They reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system which reduces skin irritation.

Topical corticosteroid misuse has been associated with several conditions and side effects like stretch marks, skin thinning, fungal infections, hypopituitarism, folliculitis, steroid rosacea, acne, skin thickening, perioral dermatitis, tinea incognito, pigmentation, and cellulitis.

Studies show that the misuse of corticosteroid-based skin lightening products increases the risk of developing adrenal insufficiency.  Adrenal insufficiency is a condition in which the adrenal glands (a pair of glands located on top of the kidneys) do not make sufficient amounts of the hormone cortisol. As a result, the person may experience symptoms like low blood pressure, muscle pain, weakness, dizziness, and weight loss.  Corticosteroids are misused as skin-lightening agents and are pretty popular in various parts of the world, especially Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Other skin lighteners use ingredients such as retinoic acid ( Retin A),  kojic acid, arbutin, vitamin C,  niacinamide, and azelaic acid. Retina-A comes from vitamin A,  kojic acid comes from a fungus, and arbutin, a compound found in various plants. Niacinamide helps reduce hyperpigmentation, brightening the skin by inhibiting the transfer of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytesTretinoin is used to thin the skin, increasing the penetration of other skin lightening agents. as well as having a direct effect in reducing pigment production. It is a prescription medication because of potential risk in pregnancy. It can be quite irritating and may cause contact irritant dermatitis.

Risks of Skin Lighteners

One of the most significant risks of using some skin lighteners is the potential exposure to mercury. One study found that nearly 1 out of every 4 skin lighteners made in Asia and sold outside the U.S. contained mercury.

There are other potential risks of skin lighteners. Those risks can include the following:

  • Prolonged use can contribute to premature aging of the skin.
  • Long-term use may increase the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen when using a skin lightener and going outside.
  • Steroids in some skin lighteners may increase the risk for skin infections, skin thinning, acne, and poor wound healing.
  • Applying steroids to large areas of skin may put you at risk for health problems related to steroids being absorbed by the body.
  • Hydroquinone may cause unwanted and untreatable skin discoloration (ochronosis).
  • Various bleaching agents, including natural ingredients, can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction..
  • If a label lists hydroquinone but doesn’t say how much it contains, don’t assume it’s safe to use. Some foreign products contain more hydroquinone than is allowed in the U.S. and some labels may not be accurate.
  • Skin turning dark or too light
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Visible blood vessels in the skin
  • Scarring
  • Redness and swelling (skin irritation and inflammation)
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Itchy and flaky skin
  • Kidney, liver, or nerve damage
  • Abnormalities in a newborn baby (if used during pregnancy)

Natural and Safe Ways to Lighten The Skin

  1. IV glutathione and vitamin C therapy are safe and improve skin health.  Glutathione reduces the production of brown and black pigment by melanocytes over time. IV glutathione can help repair and reverse adverse side effects caused by chronic skin lightening. In addition, to improving your skin this IV treatment can improve your brain, liver, and health heart. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that repairs damage body cells and decreases inflammation. Oral and intramuscular injections of glutathione are not effective for skin lightening. Larger doses ( more than 1 gm)  of glutathione administered by a doctor are needed to lighten the skin which occurs over several months. Maintenance IV glutathione treatments are required to maintain results.
  2. Compound prescriptions prescribed by your doctor can help lighten your skin. Skin lightening prescriptions may include hydroquinone, mequinol, vitamin C, kojic acid, and Retin A and should be monitored on a regular basis by your doctor.
  3. Gets enough sleep. During sleep, your body made growth hormone which helps repair and rejuvenates the skin.
  4. Make sure that you drink lots of water to flush out toxins that can lead to skin discoloration.
  5.  Apply sunscreen daily before leaving the house to prevent sun damage which can lead to uneven skin tone.
  6. Moisturize your skin to prevent it from cracking and becoming inflamed.
  7. Take oral vitamin C to help with collagen production and skin repair
  8. Exfoliate your skin on a weekly basis to remove dull dead skin.  Exfoliate with a mixture of rice, coconut oil, and honey once or twice a week to improve skin complexion.
  9. Use an orange peel mask. Grind fresh orange peels with cold milk and apply the paste onto your face and neck. Use this pack twice a week for lighter skin naturally.
  10. Natural bleach face. Blend 4  tsp of orange peel powder or lemon peel powder with 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 tsp of honey, and 4  tsp of lemon juice. Apply this paste onto your face and let stand for 30 minutes then rinse with water. Apply once a week.
  11. Other natural skin lightening treatments that you can use in homemade natural skin lightening remedies should include rose water, apple cider vinegar,  honey, olive oil, aloe vera, cumbers, and egg whites.

About Author

Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D

Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D

Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D., originally from Atlanta, Georgia, received her Bachelor of Science degree from Spelman College. She later received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine. She completed her Family Practice training at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia and her psychiatry residency at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Bell-Taylor has extensive post-graduate medical training in Functional, Integrative, and Anti-Aging Medicine. She is certified in Functional Medicine. Ava Bell-Taylor, M.D. is a holistic doctor with a focus on functional and integrative medicine. Combining functional medicine with her knowledge of conventional medicine has enabled Dr. Bell-Taylor to help many patients suffering from depression, anxiety, insomnia, attention-deficient, dementia, and eating disorders. Dr. Bell-Taylor specializes in functional medicine with a special emphasis on how hormone disorders, environmental factors, lifestyle choices, and nutritional deficiencies contribute to brain dysfunction, like depression, attention deficiency, anxiety, insomnia, dementia, and other chronic medical illnesses. Dr. Ava Bell- Taylor is the co-author with her husband, Eldred B, Taylor, M.D, of two must-read books, Are Your Hormone Making You Sick? and The Stress Connection: How Adrenal Gland Dysfunction Effects Your Health.