20 Things That May Treat Hyperpigmentation and Melasma

20 Things That May Treat Hyperpigmentation and Melasma

Hyperpigmentation and melasma are unwanted dark marks on the skin. They can range in severity but are almost always hard to get rid of.

There are things that may help lighten them that are found in some skincare products and/or sold by itself. This post is a roundup of all the possible treatments for these skin concerns.

Causes of hyperpigmentation and melasma

Both hyperpigmentation and melasma show up as dark marks on our skin. There is a difference between the conditions though. The following is a description of the two of them:

Hyperpigmentation- This is an excess production of melanin due to reasons such as sunspots, acne, wounds, cuts and from picking at the skin. These dark marks are common in people with darker skin tones.

Melasma- This is a condition that is mainly hormonal in nature. The dark marks are usually from some types of birth control or pregnancy.

When it comes to preventing dark spots, there are some things one can do. These include wearing sun protection when outside, getting acne under control and trying not to pick at your skin (if that is a problem).

Things that can treat hyperpigmentation and melasma

Without further ado, here are the options for the fading of dark marks:

  • Hydroquinone- This is a high-powered skin lightening agent. It is in a few different OTC creams at up to 2% strength. Anything over that percentage is prescription only. It may cause irritation and/or the skin to get even darker unfortunately. If one is going to use it, it should not be used for long periods of time.
  • Alpha arbutin-This comes from a plant called, bearberry. It is found in a few skincare products and can be bought in powder form. It may lighten dark spots and even out skin tones in a gentle way.
  • Aloe vera gel- This comes from the aloe vera plant. It is nontoxic, soothing and full of antioxidants. It may fade dark spots and treat acne.
  • Niacinamide- This is a form of vitamin B3. In addition to it being able to tackle dark spots, it can also improve texture and balance oil. It is found in powders, skincare products and capsules.
  • Licorice extract- This is from the licorice plant. It may also treat acne and reduce signs of aging in addition to the dark spot fading effects. It is found in skincare products, powders, capsules and liquid drops.
  • Mulberry extract- This is taken from the leaves of mulberry fruits. The extract is sold in skincare products, powders, capsules and liquid drops.
  • Korean red ginseng- This is an herb from Korea. It has compounds in it that may decrease pigmentation. It is sold in powder, energy drinks, tea, liquid drops, gummy and capsule form.
  • Ginkgo-This is a kind of tree. Extract from the leaves is used for its alleged body and mind benefits. The antioxidants it contains may also help with hyperpigmentation. It is sold in some skincare products as well as teas, oils, capsules and liquid drop form.
  • Resveratrol- This is an extract that can be taken from things like grapes, wine, blueberries and chocolate. Its antioxidant activity may provide anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and skin lightening effects. It is sold in some skincare products, powders and capsules.
  • Kojic acid- This is a chemical that comes from different types of fungi. You can find it in powder form, chemical peels, serums and many soaps.
  • Papaya- This contains alpha-hydroxy acids that lighten dark spots. You can puree the fruit and use it as a mask or get it in powdered extract, serum, juice, tablet, capsule, gummy and oil form.
  • Turmeric- This is made from the root of the curcuma longa plant which is in the same family as ginger. It has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits. It may help with acne and dark spots. You can make face masks with the powder and there are also soaps made with it.
  • Hesperidin- This is a flavonoid that comes from citrus fruits. It may help with wound healing, acne and dark spots. You can find it sold in powder and capsule form.
  • Rosehip oil- This comes from rosehips which are fruits from rose plants. They are full of vitamin C and A. Those two vitamins may help with fading dark spots, brightening the skin and fighting acne.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)- These acids are great for the exfoliation of our skin. The ones that are best for dark marks include lactic (from sour milk), glycolic (from sugar) and mandelic (from almonds) acid. Of those three acids, glycolic is the strongest. These acids are found in serums, lotions and chemical peels.
  • Beta hydroxy acids  (BHA)- These acids are a lot like alpha hydroxy acids. The difference is that beta hydroxy acids go deeper into the skin. They are best for acne and oily skin conditions but may also treat hyperpigmentation. These can be found in serums, lotions and chemical peels.
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)-This acid is related to acetic acid which is found in vinegar. It is used to make very strong peels that aid in anti-aging, fading dark marks, fixing textural issues and reading the appearance of scars. This acid may do more harm than good for people of darker skin tones.
  • Phytic acid- This is found in rice, legumes and seeds. It provides exfoliation and brightening benefits. The acid is not as well-known as other ones, but it is in a few serums and chemical peels on the market.
  • Retinol and Retin-A- Both of these come from vitamin A. Retinol is the pure form and Retin-A is the synthetic form of the vitamin. The latter is stronger which may lead to better results. They both may help with acne, anti-aging, dark spots and uneven skin tone.
  • Differin- This is a prescription strength retinoid that is available OTC. It is gentler than Retin-A and is FDA approved to treat acne (might be better for that purpose). Differin may also help with dark marks if they are from acne.
  • Sunscreen- This is really important as UV rays can do a lot of damage over time. Putting it on throughout the day can make sure that dark marks do not get any worse than how they already are. An SPF of at least 30 is recommended.

Other possible things that people say have helped them include cinnamon, honey and pumpkin puree. DIY face masks are usually created with these three ingredients and applied once or twice a week.

My take on all these possible treatments

My hyperpigmentation comes from skin picking, acne, cuts and scratches. The dark marks are extremely stubborn and do not seem to go away or get lighter.

I have tried a lot of things on this list over the years and it is frustrating that nothing has really worked. My plan is to make my own skincare product that uses some of these ingredients as well as DMAE for more anti-aging benefits.

Currently I am using vitamin C serum from Makeup Artist’s Choice, aloe vera gel, almond oil, sunscreen, chemical peels every week and a LED light massage wand (red and green settings).

In conclusion

There are many options available that may help fade dark marks on your skin. Only using one of them may not yield the results you want so it would be good to look for products that contain multiple lightening agents.

Have any of you suffered from hyperpigmentation and/or melasma? What have you used to treat it?

Thanks for reading!

#hyperpigmentation #melasma #skincare #acne #hormones #pcos #beauty

How This Menstrual Cycle Went

How This Menstrual Cycle Went

Pages from my planner/journal

I love to keep track of how my menstrual cycle is going in my planner. This is because I am still trying to figure out my body and see how I can make my cycles easier.

This past cycle is an example of a bad one for me and I wanted to share it!

A reminder of what our hormones do

Our hormones fluctuate in different ways throughout our cycle. Here is a brief overview of what they do in a 28 day cycle and what we may feel because of it:

Days 1-7: On these days, estrogen levels are up. This is when we usually are bleeding if we do get our periods. For some, these days provide relief of symptoms that may have occurred leading up to their bleeding. For others, the uncomfortable feelings continue or get worse.

Days 8-14: This is when estrogen and testosterone are high. Many may feel great at this time-mentally and physically. Those that are really sensitive to hormonal fluctuations may report PMS-type symptoms.

Days 15-22: The first part of this time in our cycles has progesterone levels rising as estrogen and testosterone fall. Estrogen rises up again towards the end. One may have mild PMS pop up from time to time during these days. This is also when more fat is burned.

Days 23-28: Estrogen and progesterone plummet during this time. This is typically when one will have more intense PMS symptoms if they get any at all.

As far as PMS symptoms go, there are said to be 150 different ones. Here is a list of them: https://drlisawatson.com/150-symptoms-of-pms

My recent, 28 day cycle

Days-

1-2. A little bit on the sad side. No real physical symptoms aside from bleeding.

3-9. Happy and motivated. Bleeding ended on day 5.

10. Horrible GI issues including stomach burning/cramping, severe bloating and intense nausea. Also, moody throughout the day.

11. Still felt sick but better than the day before.

12-17. Happy and motivated for the most part.

18. Horrible issues early in the morning- crampy abdomen, pain in ovaries, nausea, bloating, gassiness, irritability, air hunger and increased heart rate.

19. Full on PMS symptoms- headache, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea early in the morning, air hunger, increased heart rate and moodiness the whole day.

20. Happy, feeling slightly sedated and lightheadedness.

21. Calm and happy.

22. Horrible day- Insomnia, crying spells, bloating, nausea, headaches, post nasal drip and feelings of panic.

23. Feeling off-balanced, neck pain, focused, motivated and itchy.

24. Pink eye, neck pain, itchy, motivated, calm and really hungry in the evening.

25. Itchy, really hungry, sad and groggy.

26. Really hungry, mild body aches, smelling like blood and craving chocolate.

27-28. Feeling cute for whatever reason, forehead zit showed up and had a good amount of energy.

Why did I have so many physical issues?

I can not figure that question out for myself.

I did not change my diet, take new supplements nor did my sleep habits change (in a bad way). Stress was also not a problem during this cycle.

After looking this all over, my thoughts have gone to a possible COVID-19 reinfection despite a negative swab test (they can be wrong) during this cycle. I am unsure of this though.

I have continued to take vitamin B6 each day but I do not think it is helping that much. Also, I had been trying out hemp for nausea but I determined that it was causing stomach pains so I did not use it during the cycle.

All that being said, I have no idea what makes my cycles more severe seemingly every other month. *Shrug*

Health Journaling will happen daily

Although I have not figured out what to do to make my cycles easier on me, I will still write down how I am feeling each day. Hopefully in the near future I will be able to look at my journals and find a clear pattern(s) that will lead to a reduction in symptoms.

Do your menstrual cycles vary in their intensity like mine do? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

#menstrualcycles #periodproblems #pcos #womenshealth #hormones #sick #symptoms #journals

Fertile Window Flu: Yes, It Happens!

Fertile Window Flu: Yes, It Happens!

Feeling sick sucks! Especially when it is every month.

We hear a lot about PMS and the misery it can cause for some women. Less is heard about the hormonal misery that can occur during other parts of our menstrual cycles.

If you find that you feel sick around the time that you ovulate, you are not alone! We shall call this the, “fertile window flu”.

When our fertile windows are

The windows in time in which we may fall pregnant during our cycles, depends on the length of our cycles. This varies in every woman.

They say that our chances of getting pregnant are the highest about five days before and the day of ovulation. Many healthcare experts will throw out day 14 of our cycles as being when many women ovulate. This is based on a 28 day cycle which is considered average.

The shorter your cycle the earlier you ovulate. The longer your cycle, the later you ovulate. This puts us at the possibility of ovulation occurring on days 8-22.

Hormones during our fertile windows

Our hormones do different things at different times during our cycles. When we are in our fertile windows our estrogen and testosterone get higher.

Another hormone called the luteinizing hormone (LH), also gets higher at this time in our cycles. Its surge is what triggers ovulation to happen.

The fertile window flu

The same flu symptoms that can be caused by the hormones leading up to our periods, can happen during our fertile windows.

For women that also deal with PMS, experiencing the fertile window flu can make it feel like they only get a few days of feeling well each cycle. This can be really frustrating to them.

Another unfortunate thing about the fertile window flu is that it can be just as bad or even worse than the PMS symptoms one may experience. The following is a list of symptoms that can comprise the fertile window flu:

  • Chills
  • Brain fog
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Body aches
  • Bloating
  • GERD flare-ups
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore throat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated temperature

Sound familiar? It can be just like a real flu. In addition to these flu-like symptoms during the fertile window, women may experience ovulation cramps on top of it. Not cool!

Why the fertile window flu happens

Some women are just incredibly sensitive to hormonal changes which may cause the flu symptoms. Other causes for this happening can include actually being sick, experiencing stress, starting a new diet, changing/starting medication and starting supplements.

What to do if you experience this flu

If a woman deals with the fertile window flu and/or the period flu (let’s use this term to mean PMS here), there are some things they can try to eliminate or reduce the symptoms. They are as follows:

  • Birth control- Going on hormonal birth control may help balance out your hormones so that your body responds to them in a less harsh way.
  • Change up your diet- It could be wise to look at the food you eat and change things up. Some women have reported that they have had easier cycles after cutting out extra sugar and dairy.
  • Have better sleep hygiene- Getting a good amount of sleep (they say 8 hours a night) is important for our bodies. Crappy sleep can mess up our cycles.
  • Stress relief- A lot of stress can affect us physically in negative ways. It is important to practice stress relief techniques if you find it to be a significant problem. These techniques can include meditation, Yoga, listening to nice music and engaging in favorite hobbies.
  • Treat the pain- If you experience pain during these times in your cycle, there are some things you can do for it. These include taking pain relievers, CBD oil, hot packs, warm baths and slathering on Vicks VapoRub.
  • Treating nausea and GERD- There are quite a few OTC products that you can take to ease these types of symptoms. They include ginger (comes in many forms), chamomile tea, red raspberry leaf tea, peppermint (tea, candy, essential oil), vitamin B6, Pepcid and antiemetics (such as Zofran and Meclizine).
  • Treat bloating- Bloating can happen during both the fertile window and PMS. It can be treated by doing certain Yoga moves, drinking peppermint tea, drinking dandelion root tea, taking warm baths and possibly using Gas-X.
  • Treat sore throats- It may seem crazy that our hormones can cause sore throats, but it does happen. To treat a sore throat, you can use the same things that work for when you have an actual flu or cold. This includes sucking on throat drops, drinking hot teas (red raspberry leaf, chamomile, turmeric etc.) and putting Vicks VapoRub on your throat area.
  • Treating the chills- This sensation with or without a fever, is extremely uncomfortable. To deal with them you can rub yourself down with Vicks VapoRub, take Tylenol, drink hot teas, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
  • Treating exhaustion- If you are feeling utterly exhausted, the best thing to do is try to rest as much as possible if you can. Pushing through it may make things worse for you.
  • Treating nasal issues- To treat a stuffed up or a runny nose, there are a few things you can do. These include using a humidifier, saline nose sprays, breathing in peppermint essential oil and staying hydrated.
  • Treating diarrhea- Yes, hormones can cause this yucky symptom. To treat it you have to make sure you stay hydrated and you can also use Imodium (an anti-diarrheal medication). If you are actually sick though, Imodium is not recommended.

These are just some ideas and there are probably even more ways to deal with the hormonal flu.

It is also a great idea to track down the hormonal symptoms you have each day in your cycle along with your moods, diet and exercise. This will help you notice patterns in how you feel and to really see what helps or makes things worse. You can get yourself a nice health journal or just us a notebook.

Other things one can experience during their fertile window

There are other uncomfortable symptoms that some women have to deal with when they are in their fertile windows. They are as follows:

  • Acne and/or oily skin
  • Cravings
  • Worsening of mood
  • Sensitivity to smells
  • Bleeding and irritated gums
  • Excess thirst
  • Itchiness/rashes

My experience with the fertile window flu

Ever since I gave birth, I have dealt with moderate to severe physical symptoms during my fertile window. It has been really tough.

The fertile window issues I deal with include horrible nausea, lightheadedness, gassiness, bloating and painful cramping. Sometimes these occur only two out of the six days and other times it lasts the full six days.

I have been through the gamut of testing which has never led to any answers. It was not until I began to track my cycles more that I realized my issues were hormonally related.

My doctors have prescribed me birth control pills and anti-depressants. The problem is that birth control makes me feel even worse (I have tried several) and I am not interested in taking anti-depressants.

Since there really is nothing else a doctor can do for me, I have taken my health into my own hands. This involves me taking antiemetics, staying hydrated, using hot packs and taking Tylenol (does not always work that great unfortunately).

From now on I will also be drinking red raspberry leaf tea everyday to see if it helps anything.

You are not alone

If you find yourself feeling physically miserable during the mid-point of your cycle, know that there are many other women who feel the same. It is really unfortunate that some of us have to go through this as it can really get in the way of life.

Hopefully, the ideas to help get through the fertile window flu will be of use to anyone that is reading this and has to deal with it.

Thanks for reading!

#periodproblems  #womenshealth  #menstrualcycle  #hormones  #sick  #symptoms  #supplements

Period Power Book+ Review

Period Power Book+ Review

I love to read stuff about women’s health. The topic is just really interesting to me.

 Previously, I did a review of a book about women’s health. It had some good information in it and I overall enjoyed it. I came across another one about periods called, Period Power by Maisie Hill and I just had to buy it.

This post will discuss the book’s content and my personal opinions about it.

About the author

The name of the author is Maisie Hill. She has training and education in Chinese Medicine acupuncture, Abdominal Therapy, aromatherapy, reflexology and women’s health. She is also a birth doula.

She wants to help other women with their hormones and menstrual problems they may have.

About her book

Period Power was written to show women how to gain control of their hormones and make them work for us. There are a few different ways to do that and going by this book is supposed to be one of them

The very first section of the books is all about sex education. It goes into anatomy, hormones, ovulation and menstruation. This is to give readers a further understanding of their bodies so that the rest of the book makes more sense.

The second section goes into the cycle tracking strategy that the author came up with (called, The Cycle Strategy), why it is good to track your cycles and how to track them.

The Cycle Strategy has the different parts of our menstrual cycle broken up into different seasons. Winter is during the menstruation time, spring is the time before ovulation, summer is the time around ovulation and autumn is the time before your period.

After a brief description of how The Cycle Strategy works, the author then goes into detail about each menstrual cycle “season.” She talks about what the hormones are doing, good/bad things that may happen, things to avoid during that time and what can help for the issues one may face during each season.

The remaining topics given information on in the book include birth control methods, hormonal changes throughout the years, self-care as it relates to our cycles and conditions that have an effect on our hormones.

At the end of the book, the author shows an example of The Cycle Strategy tracking dial as well as gives resources for readers to seek out.

My opinion

Period Power was packed with great information. Even though I have read a lot about women’s health, I still was able to enjoy it and gain some new knowledge from it.

Just like with everything, it is not perfect. Here are my likes and dislikes of this book:

Likes-

*Amazing information provided in the first section of the book (sex education refresher!).

*The Cycle Strategy: I loved this new way of thinking about and tracking my menstrual cycle.

*What women may feel during each day of their cycles: Even though I have read about what feelings our hormones cause and even have the Hormone Horoscope app, I still learned some new things.

*Even though I do menstruate regularly, I appreciated how the author gave an alternative way to track a cycle for women that are not regular.

*Lots of information on self-care

*Great and thorough information on hormonal-related conditions

*Interesting and informative chart about all the different types of birth control.

*Information about how our hormones change over the years.

Dislikes-

*Author’s writing voice seemed to have a judgmental tone at times.

*Although I liked the birth control information, the author seemed to denounce using them a bit.

*There was part of the book where she talked about period euphoria. It was kind of weird. Like, what the hell?

I highly recommend Period Power

Reading this book was a pleasure and I am glad I bought it. It went over things I already knew in a different way and I learned some new things as well.

I would recommend this for any woman/non-binary person who wants to learn more about our specific, sexual and hormonal health.

Thanks Maisie Hill!

#periodpower  #periods  #menstrualcycle  #womenshealth  #hormones  #books

Is This PMDD? I certainly Think So!

Is This PMDD? I certainly Think So!

This is my mood certain days of the month.

Something sure is up with me. My menstrual cycle symptoms in general are just ridiculous.

In doing one of my many Google searches for other’s experiences with severe hormonal issues, I came across a condition called PMDD. I decided to look into this more and talk about in this post!

What is PMDD?

PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and is considered the severe form of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It is said to affect about 5% of women.

Here are some symptoms of PMDD:

  1. Extreme mood shifts- Changing between different moods
  2. Extreme moods- Intense depression, aggression, anxiety, paranoia etc.
  3. Physical symptoms- Heart palpitations, fatigue, cravings, breast pain, bloating, GI upset etc.
  4. Brain fog
  5. Sensory sensitivity

Some of the things listed above can occur with PMS but the difference is that they are more intense and disrupting of life with PMDD.

Doctors diagnose women with this condition if they experience at least five symptoms that are intense and get in the way of their daily lives. The following is an example of a PMDD diagnosis profile:

  1. Severe depression
  2. Feeling like people in their life do not like/love them
  3. Lack of interest in things that they normally like
  4. Binge eating
  5. Quitting jobs suddenly based on temporarily heightened emotions
  6. Bad insomnia

If one is wondering whether they have PMDD, it is a great idea to keep track of the symptoms they experience each day of their cycle. A health planner would be wonderful for this or just a regular notebook.

The cause of PMDD is not well known. It is postulated that women who fit the diagnosis criteria are just extremely sensitive to hormonal fluctuations that occur each menstrual cycle.

The current PMDD treatment options are as follows:

  1. Diet- cutting out caffeine, excess sugars, and alcohol.
  2. Antidepressants
  3. Birth control pills- Examples of some that may help PMDD more than others include Seasonique, Amethyst, Mirena and Lo Loestrin FE.
  4. Getting good sleep
  5. Supplements- Some have had success with calcium, vitamin B6, magnesium and fish oil.
  6. Meditation

There have been some reports of women with PMDD having success with micro dosing psilocybin, CBD and weed to treat their symptoms. It is important to look into these three things before trying them out.

My hormonal issues

Like I said before, my menstrual cycle symptoms are bad! I have always had discomfort at certain days during the month but ever since I had a child, things have gotten much worse.

Here are all of the lovely things I deal with during my menstrual cycle:

  1. Intense bouts of sadness during fertile window and before my period starts.
  2. Massive cravings
  3. Quick to anger
  4. Extreme Irritability
  5. Feeling like I am worthless and dumb.
  6. Can not stop thinking about the sexual/emotional abuse I endured at 14-15 years old.
  7. Severe GI upset and bloating
  8. Panic attacks and anxiety
  9. Trembling legs
  10. Severe itching

These problems have definitely disrupted my life in that they have led me to quit jobs. I find it so hard to work when I am dealing with all these things going on.

If having severe menstrual cycle symptoms were more common than it is, I do not believe that many women would be able to be successful in the workforce. Feeling extremely upset, enraged, mentally fogged up, panic stricken, like you are going to throw up all the time and more is not conducive to successful days at work.

I have PMDD

I am just going to go ahead and diagnose myself with this condition. There is no use having a doctor’s appointment for it because they will not help me at all.

I have been trying for a long time to fix my hormonal issues and I am still searching for the right thing (or things) that can help. I would say that the physical symptoms are the worst part of all this for me so I need to find something that will address them better.

I will continue doing/taking these things for PMDD:

  1. Vitamin B6
  2. Getting good sleep
  3. Intermittent fasting for 16 hours and watching my carbs
  4. Anti-nausea supplements that take the edge off

I may consider the following:

  1. Adding in magnesium into my routine- The magnesium spray I had been using was giving me bad stomach cramps and insomnia which made me stop taking it. I need to find one that does not make me feel like that because it is an important nutrient.
  2. Reducing my caffeine intake- Right now I take 500 mg of caffeine a day which is considered over the recommended amount. I might try to get this down to 200 mg a day to see if that helps anything.
  3. Adding in calcium into my routine- I had planned on doing this a while back but never ended up doing it.
  4. Meditation- I keep reading about how much this can help different ailments so I may start trying it.

I feel for anyone who deals with horrible hormonal symptoms

PMDD sucks for sure. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I really hope that one day, I will be able to overcome my severe hormonal issues or at least reduce them by a lot.

Do any of you have tough menstrual cycles, too?

Thanks for reading!

Sources-

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd

https://iapmd.org/about-pmdd

#pmdd  #pms  #pcos  #womenshealth  #periodproblems  #menstrualcycle  #health  #supplements  #mentalhealth