Hyperpigmentation Around the Mouth: Causes and Treatments

Jun 09, 2024 | 7 min read

Question on this topic? Get an instant answer from AI Doctor.Instant answer from AI Doctor.

Hyperpigmentation around the mouth occurs when excess melanin production leads to dark spots or patches. Common causes include hormonal changes, sun exposure, and inflammation. Effective treatments and preventive measures can help achieve a more even skin tone.

hyperpigmentation around mouth

Understanding Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation refers to the darkening of certain skin areas due to excess melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for our skin, hair, and eye color. When the body produces too much melanin, it can cause dark spots or patches, especially around the mouth.

Addressing hyperpigmentation around the mouth is crucial for several reasons. It can significantly impact one's self-confidence and overall appearance, making the skin look uneven and unhealthy.

Causes of Dark Areas Around the Mouth

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances are a primary cause of hyperpigmentation around the mouth. Melasma, known as the "mask of pregnancy," results in dark patches due to hormonal changes, common during pregnancy or with hormonal birth control. These fluctuations stimulate melanocytes, increasing melanin production and causing hyperpigmentation.

According to the NCBI publication, melasma is uncommon before puberty and occurs more frequently during reproductive years. It affects 15% to 50% of pregnant individuals. The prevalence ranges from 1.5% to 33%, varying by population.

Excessive Sun Exposure

UV rays from the sun are a significant cause of hyperpigmentation around the mouth. UV exposure stimulates melanin production as a defense mechanism, leading to dark spots with prolonged exposure. To prevent this, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

PIH occurs when the skin darkens after an injury or inflammation. Common causes include acne, injuries, and skin conditions. Inflammation triggers melanocytes to produce more melanin during the healing process, leading to dark areas around the mouth. Managing and treating inflammatory conditions promptly can minimize PIH.

Poor Skincare Habits

Neglecting proper skincare can contribute to hyperpigmentation. Not using sunscreen daily and not thoroughly removing makeup can exacerbate dark spots. Establishing a consistent skincare routine with gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and sun protection is essential for an even skin tone.

Ethnicity and Genetics

Ethnicity and genetics significantly influence hyperpigmentation. Individuals with darker skin tones have higher melanin levels, making them more prone to hyperpigmentation. Genetic factors also determine how the skin responds to hormonal changes, sun exposure, and inflammation.

People of South Asian, African, or Mediterranean descent may be more susceptible to dark areas around the mouth.

Certain Medications

Certain medications, like antipsychotics, antimalarials, and antibiotics, can cause skin pigmentation changes as a side effect. These medications can increase melanin production or alter its distribution, resulting in hyperpigmentation. Consult a healthcare provider if you notice changes in skin pigmentation after starting a new medication.


Aging causes various skin changes, including melanin distribution alterations. The skin's natural repair mechanisms become less efficient, leading to uneven pigmentation and dark areas around the mouth. Aging skin may also be more affected by sun exposure and hormonal changes, exacerbating hyperpigmentation. Maintaining a healthy skincare routine and protecting the skin from the sun can mitigate age-related changes.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control can cause hormonal imbalances that trigger hyperpigmentation. These contraceptives influence hormone levels, stimulating melanocytes to produce more melanin and resulting in dark patches around the mouth. Discuss potential side effects with a healthcare provider when considering or using hormonal birth control.

Hyperpigmentation around the mouth can be caused by hormonal imbalances, excessive sun exposure, and other factors. If you're unsure of the cause, use Symptom Checker to identify potential underlying conditions.

Docus AI Symptom Checker

Docus AI Symptom Checker

Just 3 simple steps to efficiently understand and manage your health symptoms online.

Effective Treatments for Dark Areas Around the Mouth

Topical Skin Lightening Agents

Topical skin lightening agents are a common and effective treatment for dark areas around the mouth. These products often contain ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, glycolic acid, and vitamin C.

  • Hydroquinone: A powerful skin-lightening agent that reduces melanin production.
  • Kojic Acid: Derived from fungi, it inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which is essential for melanin production.
  • Glycolic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin, promoting cell turnover.
  • Vitamin C: An antioxidant that brightens the skin and reduces melanin production.

How They Work: These agents work by inhibiting the production of melanin and promoting skin cell turnover. By reducing the amount of melanin, these treatments help to fade dark spots and even out skin tone over time. Regular application as per the product instructions is essential for achieving the best results.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are another effective treatment for hyperpigmentation around the mouth.

  • Procedure: During a chemical peel, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, causing the top layers to exfoliate and eventually peel off. This process reveals new, less pigmented skin underneath.
  • Customization: Chemical peels can be customized based on your skin type and specific concerns. There are different types of peels (light, medium, and deep) that vary in strength and recovery time. A dermatologist can recommend the best type for your needs, ensuring the most effective results with minimal side effects.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy, specifically fractional laser treatments, is highly effective for targeting dark areas with precision.

  • Fractional Laser Treatments: These treatments use focused light beams to break down melanin in the skin, helping to reduce hyperpigmentation.
  • Benefits: Laser therapy not only targets melanin but also stimulates collagen production, promoting skin renewal and improving overall skin texture. This dual action makes it a powerful option for treating dark spots around the mouth.


Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive exfoliation process that helps remove dead skin cells.

  • Exfoliation Process: This treatment uses tiny crystals or a diamond-tipped wand to gently exfoliate the outer layer of the skin. This process helps to remove dead skin cells and promote the growth of new, healthier skin.
  • Benefits: By regularly exfoliating the skin, microdermabrasion can help achieve a more even skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots. It is suitable for all skin types and requires minimal downtime.

Prescription Creams

Dermatologists can prescribe creams that contain higher concentrations of active ingredients than over-the-counter products.

  • Dermatologist-Prescribed Treatments: These creams often contain higher levels of hydroquinone or retinoids, which are more effective at reducing hyperpigmentation.
  • Effectiveness: Prescription-strength treatments can provide more noticeable results compared to over-the-counter products, particularly for stubborn dark areas around the mouth. However, they should be used under medical supervision to avoid potential side effects.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy

IPL therapy uses broad-spectrum light to target melanin in the skin.

  • Broad-Spectrum Light: The light energy is absorbed by pigmented areas, causing them to gradually fade.
  • Process and Benefits: IPL treatments are relatively quick and can effectively reduce pigmentation with minimal downtime. They are ideal for treating larger areas of hyperpigmentation and can be tailored to suit different skin types.

Sun Protection

Sun protection is crucial in preventing and managing hyperpigmentation. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 25 or higher is essential to protect the skin from UV damage.

Tips for Choosing and Applying Sunscreen:

  • Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, including the area around the mouth.
  • Reapply every two hours, or more often if sweating or swimming.
  • Incorporate sun-protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, for additional protection.

Natural Remedies for Dark Areas Around the Mouth

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural remedy known for its skin-lightening properties due to its high citric acid content. Citric acid for skin lightening.

Application Tips:

  • Apply fresh lemon juice to the affected areas for 10-15 minutes.
  • Rinse off with water and moisturize afterward.
  • Use a few times a week for best results.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel is renowned for its soothing and healing properties, making it an excellent remedy for hyperpigmentation. Aloe vera helps to heal the skin and improve its tone and texture.

Regular Use:

  • Apply pure aloe vera gel to dark areas.
  • Leave it on for 20-30 minutes before rinsing off.
  • Regular use can lighten hyperpigmentation over time.

Turmeric Paste

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties beneficial for skin health. Contains curcumin, which reduces inflammation and brightens skin.

Application Tips:

  • Mix turmeric with yogurt or honey to create a paste.
  • Apply to dark spots and leave on for 15-20 minutes.
  • Rinse off, being cautious as turmeric can stain clothes and skin.

Potato Slices

Potatoes contain enzymes and vitamin C that can help lighten dark areas. These components in potatoes can help reduce hyperpigmentation.

Application Tips:

  • Place thin potato slices on the affected areas.
  • Leave them for 15-20 minutes.
  • Regular use may contribute to a more even skin tone.

Oatmeal Scrub

Oatmeal is a gentle exfoliant that helps remove dead skin cells and promote skin renewal. 

Preparation and Use:

  • Mix oatmeal with yogurt to create a scrub.
  • Gently massage onto the skin and rinse off after a few minutes.
  • Use regularly to help fade dark spots.

Green Tea Compress

Green tea is rich in antioxidants that support skin health.

How to Use:

  • Brew green tea and let it cool.
  • Use it as a compress on the dark areas.
  • Regular use may help lighten hyperpigmentation.

Preventing Dark Areas Around the Mouth

  • Healthy Diet: Include antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Hydration: Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Include water-rich foods like cucumbers and watermelons.
  • Sun Protection: Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 25 or higher. Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
  • Stress Management: Practice yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises to manage stress.
  • Skincare Routine: Use gentle products suited for your skin type. Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and protect your skin from the sun. Avoid harsh products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions?Ask AI Doctor

Key Takeaways

  • Hyperpigmentation around the mouth is caused by excess melanin production.
  • Common causes include hormonal imbalances, excessive sun exposure, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, poor skincare habits, ethnicity, genetics, certain medications, and aging.
  • Effective treatments include topical skin lightening agents, chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, prescription creams, IPL therapy, and sun protection.
  • Natural remedies such as lemon juice, aloe vera gel, turmeric paste, potato slices, oatmeal scrub, and green tea compress can help lighten dark areas.
  • Preventive measures include maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, using sun protection, managing stress, and following a consistent skincare routine.
AI Assistant

Have Questions?

Have a question on this topic? Submit it here and get an instant answer from our AI Doctor.

Please Note!This tool is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a professional before taking any actions.

Make Informed Health Decisions

Talk to Docus AI Doctor, generate health reports, get them validated by Top Doctors from the US and Europe.

Make Informed Health Decisions

You’re only one click away from a life-changing journey

Virtual health assistant powered by AI
350+ world-renowned Doctors