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Check & Protect! It’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Why Is My Private Area Dark?

As you age, many things start to change. Things like your ability to drink excessive amounts of alcohol and not want to die the next day or your willingness to stay in loud, crowded hostels when you travel. Your sense of style has probably changed a lot since you were a teenager, as has your hair and body.

Your complexion tends to change, too — while you may have been baby-faced and glowing from sunrise to sunset in your younger years, signs of age start to make themselves known all across our faces as time goes on.

Whether you’re just starting to notice tiny age lines in the corners of your eyes, or you’ve been a religious Retinol user since your first frown line started to furrow in your twenties, it’s hard not to be super aware of how our bodies are changing as we get older. We can see these changes reflected back at us in the mirror.

One thing you may not have thought to worry about just yet when it comes to aging is how your private area may age. It may have come as more of a shock to you if you felt like checking up on your lady bits one day and realized that it’d changed quite a bit down there since the last time you looked!

How Do Things Change Down There?

The first thing to note is that changes in any part of your body as you age are entirely normal! It’s part of the deal of being on this mortal coil in the first place, and while at times it can be distressing, it’s really not a problem. It happens to everybody!

So if you crouched down over that mirror or did some acrobatics to peer at your private area in a hanging mirror (kudos, if so) and didn’t recognize the bits you were seeing, there’s no need to panic.

As you get older, the skin of your private area may darken around your labia, scrotum or anus. It’s called Hyperpigmentation, and it’s no big deal! Your skin may start to darken in your private area around puberty and more so as you age. Much like other areas of your body, you may also notice that the skin down there looks a bit looser or has more lines than you remember. This is normal, too!

And don’t worry — if you had a little crisis about it and consulted a friend who didn’t know what you were talking about, there’s no reason to panic. The color of the skin in your private area, of course, varies from person to person.

Especially with the latter, everything can look a bit… similar in a way that can mistakenly lead you to believe that whatever you’ve got down there is somehow wrong. But your private area is yours and yours alone — there isn’t a standard look for labia or a normal color for your anus. Everybody is different, and every shape and color is normal.

If you’re still concerned, it can never hurt to visit your doctor or gynecologist to voice your concerns. In general, hyperpigmentation isn’t dangerous, and as we’ve said, having darker skin in your private area is completely normal and very common. But if speaking to a professional will give you peace of mind, it’s definitely worth the visit!

What Causes Your Private Area to Darken?

Several things can cause the skin of your private area to be darker than your usual complexion.

Some of the causes are similar to what causes hyperpigmentation elsewhere on your body. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by something as simple as friction, which can cause your cells to produce more melanin than usual. It’s why hyperpigmentation is common on elbows, knees and underarms — places that tend to rub up against each other or up against other things more often.

Normal day-to-day movement could affect this in your private area, as could wearing tight clothes, or even sex, over time. We’d like to reiterate that this is completely normal and not an issue — so don’t for one second think we’re telling you to take some time away from the bedroom. Wink wink.

In addition to friction, hyperpigmentation can also be exacerbated by damage to the skin. This could be a sustained amount of friction over time or minor damage from shaving or other hair removal processes. Sex can cause this as well because it’s not uncommon to end up with microtears around your lady bits or anus due to a roll in the hay.

These tears aren’t usually very painful, and you may not even notice them. But anything that might inflame your skin can lead to Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). You can even get PIH from things like yeast infections or ingrown hairs.

Another big one is hormones! The skin cells responsible for producing melanin are super sensitive to hormonal changes, more so than other cells, so it makes sense that your private area may darken over time due to hormones.

This process can speed up by things like puberty, pregnancy — or getting older and going through the changes in hormones your body experiences later in life. Estrogen is thought to increase pigment so that it may affect not only your labia but also your nipples or anus.

The last of the common causes for darker skin in your private area is one we’ve already touched upon — aging! Because hyperpigmentation can occur due to irritation and trauma to the dermis, throughout your life, your body weathers more and more. So it’s completely normal for your private area to get darker as you age.

What Can You Do About It?

Here’s the thing — there are many different treatments and services, ranging from cheap DIY creams to expensive professional laser treatments, that are advertised to help you brighten the look of the dark skin of your private area.

Although there are many amazing ingredients like Tranexamic Acid, which are thought to help reduce the appearance of dark spots on other areas of your body. We don’t recommend using a cream or product designed for brightening the appearance of dark spots on other parts of you on your lady bits.

While it might be your holy grail when it comes to facial discoloration or for brightening the look of dark knees or elbows, nothing that isn’t specifically formulated to respect the delicate microbiome of your private area should go anywhere near it!

Most people with vaginas already know, maintaining a healthy environment down there isn’t as easy as you’d hope! So many things can throw things off down there and lead to infection. So you have to be super careful with anything you apply topically; we wouldn’t recommend using anything at all to the skin of your private area without consulting a doctor first.

Even ingredients you trust could do more than give you an infection — you could even burn yourself, which, ironically, might create even more hyperpigmentation.

Other options for brightening the look of your private area include professional laser treatments. These can be expensive. Laser treatments work by blasting the pigment in the affected area into smaller pieces and making it easier for it to disperse, thereby brightening the appearance of the area. You might even see results after one treatment.

But keep in mind, because the skin of your private area is so sensitive and easily damaged, laser treatments to treat hyperpigmentation down there aren’t completely safe. You may have negative effects, experience discomfort or even end up with a burn due to laser treatment.

Overall, we can’t say that we’re fully behind the different options for improving the appearance of dark skin around your genitals. It’s such a sensitive area and so much more likely to go wrong than other cosmetic procedures. If you’re certain that you want to brighten the look of the skin of your private area regardless of the risks, all we can say is that it’s essential to do your research.

In Conclusion

It’s completely and totally normal for the skin of your private area to darken as you age or as the result of a wide variety of super common things. As it’s become more and more usual for us to groom our bits, whether it’s trimming, shaving or waxing, it seems like there’s been an increased awareness about other things in our private areas we never used to worry about… like our complexions down there!

No two people look the same, and there’s no reason our private areas should look the same, either! However, if the dark skin in your private area is getting you down, there are options out there for brightening the look of it. But the best advice? Wear it as a badge of honor! After all, one of the things that can cause hyperpigmentation in your private area is friction… so think of it as a memorial to good times!

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager

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