I am a 16-year-old and find that my complexion is becoming dry and dark. I eat healthily. I also have undereye circles and my lips are dark, making me appear tired.
Changes in skin colour can either be of physiological origin (due to changes taking place in the body), pathological nature (related to certain diseases) or can be “normal”.
These changes can be seen either as lighter skin areas – hypopigmentation – or darker skin areas – hyperpigmentation.
In both these cases, there’s a long suspect list of probable causes. At 16, hyperpigmentary changes that are making some parts of your skin look darker could be of genetic origin. In Asian skin, such pigmentary alterations are common.
A detailed dermatological examination, blood investigation possibly even a skin biopsy is required for a proper diagnosis.
From your query, most of the skin changes you have described suggest that you probably were, or still are, suffering from some degree of atopic dermatitis. All the pigmentary changes listed by you could be a part of postinflammatory sequel.
At the same time, I’m also suspecting that you are passing through some degree of psychosocial anxiety and its resultant distress is making you relatively more conscious about your outlook and appearance. I would like to positively reassure you that with the modern options of available treatments, your skin complaints can be successfully treated.
Consult an experienced dermatologist. The treatment programme could include topical skin lightening creams, gentle chemical peels or skin pigment-diluting lasers.
Meanwhile, the one thing that you can and should do is avoid excessive sun exposure, as it could worsen your condition.
Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir is an international education counsellor