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When talking about skin care, people often think of the facial skin and develop a skin care routine for it. They tend to ignore the hands and feet, which, while not as sensitive as the face, are also often exposed to the harsh environment.
This can result in darkening of the skin on the hands and feet, generally due to excessive sun exposure, the use of bronzing products and sunless tanning techniques, dust, pollution, or the lack of cleansing and exfoliation.
Therefore, it is important to also take proper care of the skin of your hands and feet. If you notice that your skin has become darker in these areas, you can try different treatments to even it out.
In-Office Treatment for Hyperpigmented Skin
You can consult a dermatologist for the following treatment methods if you notice hyperpigmentation in your hands or feet:
- Chemical peel. Chemicals are applied to the hands and feet to exfoliate the skin, removing the top layer. This exposes newer skin layers that are lighter in color due to lower sun damage. (1)
- Microdermabrasion. A small buffing device is used to exfoliate the top layer of the skin. (2) As the skin heals, it becomes lighter and healthier, thus giving a brighter appearance.
- TCA peels. A type of chemical peel widely used for the treatment of hyperpigmentation, TCA peels can penetrate deeper into the skin than standard chemical peels. It is thus more beneficial for pigmentation and scarring. It also helps make your skin brighter, firmer, and even toned.
- Yellow peels. Retinoic acid, kojic acid, phytic acid, and azelaic acid are utilized to block melanin synthesis in order to prevent further hyperpigmentation. The combination of these ingredients also helps lighten existing skin discoloration.
- Q-switch laser. Q -Switch laser targets the melanin content in hyperpigmented areas of the skin with an invisible beam of light. The melanin pigment absorbs this light energy and disintegrates, thus making the skin appear lighter and smoother. The laser can penetrate the deep layers of the targeted areas without affecting the surrounding skin. Q-switch laser treatments show effective results in 6–8 sessions.
- Hand fillers: Using hand fillers helps maintain the hydration of hands, therefore preventing hyperpigmentation.
Ways to Treat Dark Hands and Feet Naturally
Darkening of the skin can generally be reversed by using natural ingredients that exfoliate and lighten the skin. You can try the following home remedies to lighten dark hands and feet.
1. Apply a turmeric mask
Curcumin, an active compound present in turmeric, has antioxidant properties that can lower melanin production and thus control skin darkening. (3)
You can apply turmeric topically to the skin and also consume it orally in the form of turmeric milk, daily before bedtime, to improve your skin and general health.
How to use:
- Mix turmeric with cold milk to form a paste. Apply a thin layer of the paste to your skin, and wash it off after 15–20 minutes. Repeat this remedy daily for effective results.
- Mix 1 tsp of turmeric with 2 tbsp of gram flour, 1 tbsp of curd, and lemon juice. Apply the paste to the affected areas, and leave it to dry. Rub off the paste gently once dry, and then rinse your skin.
- Form a thick paste by mixing ¼ tsp of turmeric with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Apply the paste to the skin. Wash it off after 10 minutes. Repeat this remedy 2–3 times a week.
2. Use salt scrubs
Salt scrubs are effective in skin exfoliation, thus making it appear softer, smoother, and healthier. Using salt scrubs can boost skin detoxification as well.
How to use:
- Mix 1 cup of Dead Sea salt or Epsom salt with ¼ cup of a carrier oil such as avocado, olive, or jojoba oil.
- Add 10–20 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil.
- Massage this scrub gently on your hands and feet in circular motions.
- Wash your hands and feet after 15 minutes using lukewarm water.
3. Try paraffin wax treatments
Paraffin wax treatments can smoothen, soften, and moisturize the skin. The wax also acts as a mild exfoliant to remove the buildup of dead skin cells. Paraffin wax can also lock in the moisture and give the skin a glossy finish.
How to use:
- Melt 2–3 blocks of paraffin wax, and add olive oil and lavender essential oil to it.
- Cleanse your hands and feet with a mild soap, pat them dry, and apply moisturizer.
- Dip your hands and feet in the paraffin wax mixture, and lift them after a few seconds. Allow the wax to solidify to some extent.
- Dip your hands and feet in the paraffin wax mixture again, repeating this procedure 4–5 times until a paraffin glove forms on your hands and feet.
- Place a plastic bag over your hands and feet and fix it tightly. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, until the wax hardens.
- Once the wax hardens, pull off the plastic bag along with the paraffin wax.
4. Make your own yogurt cream
Yogurt contains lactic acid, (4) which causes skin lightening by removing the dead skin cells that make the skin dry, dark, and scaly. In addition, the vitamins and proteins in yogurt soften the skin and give it a natural glow.
Honey is another ingredient in this cream that hydrates and nourishes the skin. Turmeric is also added for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can soothe the skin.
How to use:
- Mix 2 tbsp of yogurt with 1 tsp of turmeric. Add 1 tbsp honey to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Use this cream to massage your skin for a few minutes. Rinse it off after 10–15 minutes. Repeat this remedy twice a day for best results.
- Mix yogurt with equal amounts of rose water, and add 1 tsp of vegetable glycerine. Use this mixture to massage your hands and feet well. Rinse it off after 2–3 hours or overnight. Repeat this remedy daily.
5. Rub some cucumber
Cucumber acts as a skin-lightening agent that improves skin discoloration and tanning. It works due to the presence of vitamin A, which helps control melanin production. Cucumber also helps hydrate the skin.
How to use:
- Cut a fresh cucumber into thin slices and rub them on the darkened skin for 5 minutes. Leave the slices on the skin for another 15 minutes, and then rinse the area with water. Repeat this remedy 2–3 times a day. You can also rub potato slices on your skin to lighten it.
- Mix cucumber juice with lemon juice, and use the mixture to massage your skin. Rinse it off with cold water after 10–15 minutes. Repeat this remedy twice a day.
- You can also use cucumber with aloe vera gel. Simply blend one cucumber with 2 tbsp of aloe vera gel, and massage the mixture on your hands and feet. Rinse it off after 10 minutes. Repeat the remedy twice daily.
6. Make an orange peel mask
The high vitamin C content of orange peels helps bleach the skin. (5) Moreover, orange peels contain citric acid, which exfoliates the skin, revealing lighter, clearer skin.
How to use:
- Mix orange peel powder with yogurt to form a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste to your hands and feet, and rub it off after 15–20 minutes.
- Use this remedy 1–2 times a week for effective results.
7. Massage with raw milk
The use of raw milk is an age-old remedy for skin darkness. The abundant lactic acid in raw milk exfoliates and bleaches the skin. Moreover, raw milk moisturizes the skin, preventing dryness and cracking. Massaging your skin every day with raw milk can lighten dark skin over time.
How to use:
- Massage your skin with raw milk daily.
- Allow the milk to stay on the skin for 20 minutes.
- Wash it off.
8. Apply mashed papaya
Papaya is considered a natural bleaching agent that can make your skin glow.
How to use:
- Rub the inside of a papaya skin on the dark areas. Wash the areas with water, and pat your skin dry.
- Mash a ripe papaya and add 1 cup of lemon juice to it. Use this mixture to massage your skin for a few minutes. Wash it off with cold water after half an hour. Repeat this remedy daily.
9. Make an oatmeal and tomato mask
Oatmeal is an excellent natural scrub that exfoliates dead skin cells. (6) Tomatoes contribute to skin lightening due to their bleaching properties. Tomatoes also contain lycopene that prevents sun damage.
Using oatmeal and tomato mask can exfoliate the skin, giving it a soft texture and a natural glow.
How to use:
- Mix 2 tbsp of tomato juice, 2 tbsp of curd, and 4 tbsp of oatmeal to form a paste.
- Apply the paste on your hands and feet.
- Wash it off after 15 minutes using cold water.
10. Use an almond mask
Almonds are rich in nutrients, including riboflavin and vitamin E, which aid in skin whitening. The use of almonds can also rejuvenate the skin and improve skin health in general.
How to use:
- Soak 7–8 almonds in water overnight.
- De-skin the almonds in the morning and grind them into a paste.
- To the almond paste, mix in 2 tsp of milk, 2 tsp of gram flour, and 6–7 drops of lemon juice.
- Massage this paste on your hands and feet, and wash it off after 10–15 minutes.
Self-Care Measures to Lighten Dark Hands and Feet
The following self-care measures can be useful in lightening dark hands and feet:
- Consume a well-balanced diet to maintain good skin health.
- Keep yourself hydrated by consuming plenty of water throughout the day.
- Exfoliate your skin 1–2 times a week to remove dirt, dust, and excessive oils from the skin surface. This also prevents the buildup of dead skin cells, which can clog skin pores and cause problems. You can use exfoliating gloves or scrubs for this purpose.
- Apply moisturizers regularly to maintain your skin health and glow. Use natural moisturizers such as aloe vera gel, coconut oil, and cocoa butter to hydrate your skin.
- Use sunscreens daily to prevent your skin from harsh sun rays. You can also wear protective gear such as gloves, socks, and hats if you are going to stay outdoors for a long time.
- Avoid the use of harsh chemicals or chemical-laden products on your skin to prevent darkening in the first place.
- Get your pedicures and manicures from a trusted salon to avoid fungal infections through contaminated equipment.
The skin on your hands and feet can become darker, often due to neglect, sun exposure, or buildup of dead skin. While this is not a serious problem, it is best to take proper care of your skin, which eventually contributes to skin lightening.
The basic skin care for hyperpigmentation treatment and prevention includes exfoliation, cleansing, moisturization, and protection from sunlight. You can also go for different medical treatments to lighten your skin.
Over-the-counter cosmetics may give quick results, but they are laden with chemicals that can harm the skin in the long run. It is best to use natural remedies that restore your natural skin complexion and give it a glow.