Ever wondered why your genitals are darker than the rest of the body? Generally speaking for women, nipples, areolas, and labia tend to be a shade or two deeper in colour than the rest of the skin. This is completely normal and shouldn’t be misconstrued as something ‘wrong’ with the body.
Here’s why it happens over time:
One of the major reasons behind the darkening of the intimate area is friction. This process is called keratinisation. Keratinisation can be defined as a means of a physical barrier formation, where the keratinocytes (keratin-containing cells) manufacture more keratin as they move upwards to the top-most skin layer to settle. Once this layer matures, it sheds and peels and is then replaced by the layers beneath it.
What you should know about this process is that Keratinocytes also have hints of melanin (the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes colour. Dark-skinned people have relatively more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes) in them. Melanocytes make tiny pockets of melanin-containing sacs, called melanosomes that are transferred through keratinocytes. The melanosome land on the vital DNA containing the nucleus in order to protect the DNA from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
This brings us back to the areas where the skin thickens because of friction. Over time, everyday activities like walking, exercise, sex, or just moving around cause friction in these areas. The constant rubbing of the skin can cause a change in colour, This process can’t be avoided and neither can be reversed naturally.
During puberty, sex hormones tend to rise steadily in the body. This sudden surge in hormones in the body stimulates the production of melanin. This means that during this time, both men and women notice a change in colour in their intimate areas. While women see a change in their nipples, areolas, and labia. For men, it’s the penis and the testes.
The further darkening of the genitals might happen for women who are pregnant or have just delivered. This is because, in the interim of the pregnancy, melanin accumulates in the breast tissue and especially is visible in areas like the nipple. This is perhaps the reason why pregnant women have much darker nipples than women who have never been pregnant. The colour, once darkened, usually never goes back to its original state.
3. Harsh Soaps
Using a harsh bar of soap or a body wash with a steep pH can eat away the outermost layer of the skin. This protective layer is loaded with hydrating proteins and fatty acids. Using harsh cleansers can destroy this barrier easily leaving the skin inflamed, prone to abrasion and hyper-reactive. So, these cleansers, in fact, catalyse the process of darkening of the skin. Make sure to choose products that you wish to use down there with a neutral pH. When it comes to products specially designed for the intimate area, you should definitely check out the Hi Life Intimate Hygiene Spray. Our vaginal spray is a 100% alcohol-free unique Japanese formulation that provides an assured solution to vaginal itching, rashes & irritation. The intimate hygiene spray gives complete protection against bacterial & yeast infections as well. With a formula that enables a stable pH balance, it makes sure that your vagina stays odour-free during period days and before & after sex.
Other than these three major causes, sometimes even hair removal leaves the skin exposed to extra friction and abrasion which causes skin inflammation that might cause darkening of the area. Other than that, medical conditions like diabetes and obesity too can cause dark, patchy skin around the groin area, the armpits, or the neck. This condition is called Acanthosis Nigricans.
At the end of the day, there are cosmetic procedures out there that can help you lighten the skin for these areas. However, embracing your body for how it changes over time and matures is also important. Amid the ongoing body positivity movement, skin positivity talks about how the skin shouldn’t be pressured to look a certain way. What you see on screen in films or even adult films is a minute representation of what women’s bodies look like, women come in all shapes and sizes and even varying skin colour. It’s time we start to embrace the bodies we’re born with.