How to Lighten Hyperpigmentation Caused by Insulin Resistance

Many women suffering from Insulin resistance and PCOS experience a change in skin pigmentation. If you find yourself with dark velvet like patches of skin on your armpits, neck,groin, knees, elbows or other areas you may be wondering what you can do about it. There are ways to lighten these patches and sometimes make them go away completely. Here are some ways to lighten hyperpigmentation.



The medical name for these dark spots is Acanthosis Nigricans or hyperpigmentation.. Studies have shown that hyperpigmentation is linked to impaired glucose tolerance and hyper androgen levels in women. Obesity, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, growth hormones and thyroid medications can also influence insulin levels and contribute to this problem.



The best way to resolve hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal imbalance is to treat the underlying condition. This can be accomplished in the following ways:


Improve blood sugar levels

Avoid processed foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates.


Decrease your Androgen levels with natural supplements

Marjoram,spearmint tea, Reishi mushrooms, flax seeds, red clover and licorice root are all supplements that scientists have shown to have anti-androgen properties.



Exercise helps to keep insulin levels in balance and aids in decreasing inflammation.


Keep your skin exfoliated and hydrated


If you are overweight, lose weight.




Over the counter cosmetic treatments

There are several over the counter products available that you may want to try. They won’t eliminate the condition, but can significantly lighten the dark patches and make them less noticeable.

Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serum has natural lightening properties when you take it internally or use it topically. There are tons of vitamin c serums available on Amazon and in health food stores, and many of them come mixed with other great skin lightening agents like azaelic acid, niacinamine, and hylauronic acid. Two standout products are The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension (at TheOrdinary.com) and JJLabs Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid ( on Etsy.com), the latter of which makes each batch fresh to order.


Fade Cream

Some sort of fade cream, skin lightening cream, or anti-dark spot cream is a necessary agent for lightening spots. These tend to work best on hyperpigmentation of the face or spots on the body; most aren’t strong enough to lighten dark elbows, knuckles, or knees, though. Some of the most trusted products are Ambi Fade Cream and Palmers Anti-Dark Spot Fade Cream. These can be found online or most drug stores.


Acid Body Peel

Any peeling will help lighten your skin tone, but most peels are made specifically for the face and aren’t strong enough for the body. The 5 Acid Body Peel by Make Up Artist’s Choice is a rare exception, and also a fan fave. It also claims to help crepe paper skin and rejuvenate the skin’s overall appearance. The peel contains lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, citric acid, and salicylic acid, basically, the holy grail of acids. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap at $12.50 for a sample and $52 for a full 8oz bottle.



This body lotion is made with 12% lactic acid, which helps peel a thin layer of your skin. It’s best used on larger areas to help remove a permanent tan, or all over softer skin and a healthy glow. Amlactin can be purchased at any drugstore or Amazon.


Likas Papaya Acid Soap

This bright orange bar soap exfoliates the skin by micro-peeling the top layer of your skin. The trick is to lather it on the skin and then let it sit for five minutes before rinsing off. This product is not really designed for small spots, but is perfect for lightening under arms or larger areas of the body. It’s not too easy to find, but many Asian markets carry it, and it is usually available on Amazon.


Exfoliating Towel

Exfoliating is the first step to lightening dark marks and spots. Exfoliating can subtly lighten an area on its own, and doing it regularly allows any serums or creams you might use to permeate the surface of the skin better. There are plenty of exfoliating towels, mitts, and gloves on the market from a variety of different makers. Korean exfoliating washcloths, found on Amazon, are one of the best options for exfoliating large spots like underarms, knees, and elbows.



Hyperpigmentation is more than just a cosmetic problem. It can cause women to feel self conscious and contribute to self-esteem issues. The good news is that there are ways to reduce and eliminate it through cosmetic and lifestyle changes.


Do you suffer from hyper pigmentation?

Let me know what has worked for you in the comments below.






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  1. Ha Roda says:

    Thank you for great tips on lighten up hyperpigmentation of the skin. It’s very helpful.

    As I grow older, I noticed some dark spots here and there on my face and arms. I always thought they were freckles caused by the sun. However, the spots grow larger over time. I never thought it could of caused by insulin resistance.

    I shall try out your tips and suggestions to see if they help lighten the pigments. Thank you!

    1. admin says:

      Hi Rhoda, I hope that some of these suggestions work well for you. There are some other reasons for hyperpigmentation besides insulin resistance. The cosmetic suggestions are usually effective to lighten the dark patches regardless of the cause.

  2. lilywong says:

    This is a very useful article for women. Never knew that insulin resistance can cause hyperpigmentation. Heard about PCOS and it’s unfortunate a lot of skin problems have an underlying cause with this condition. Thanks for the tips. I think natural supplements like the foods you mentioned will help a lot.

    1. admin says:

      Hi lilywong,

      I hope these tips work well for you or someone you know.

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