By Novagrace Carganillo Articles Posted 3 months ago 81 views


Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a darkened area of skin that remains after a pimple or wound heals. The discoloration is caused by the skin's natural response to inflammation, which involves the production of excess melanin (pigment).

PIH usually resolves on its own, but it can take up to two years to completely resolve. Topical medications and in-office treatments can aid in this process.

This article discusses post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, why dark spots appear, and what you can do to help them fade faster.



PIH occurs when a wound or irritation, such as a scrape, rash, or pimple, causes the skin to become inflamed. As the skin heals, it produces an excess of melanin (the protein that gives the skin its color). This darkens the skin.

Most acne sufferers have some degree of PIH. Hyperpigmentation can occur after even minor pimples and blemishes.

However, the larger and darker the PIH spot tends to be, the more inflamed the breakout. Furthermore, picking or popping a pimple increases the risk of developing PIH because it causes inflammation.

Other causes of PIH include: Sunburn, Chemical peels, Dermabrasion, Laser resurfacing



Over-the-counter (OTC) products can aid in the fading of more subtle marks. A prescription cream, on the other hand, may be a better option for deeper marks or those that have been present for a long time. Your dermatologist can recommend a variety of products.

Whatever treatment option you choose, keep in mind that progress will take time.


Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Glycolic acid in particular is a wonderful starting point to start when treating an issue.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have the ability to enhance the appearance of PIH by accelerating the skin's natural exfoliation process.

These components are present in a lot of over-the-counter "brightening" medications. Moreover, leave-on skincare products like creams, gels, and lotions will produce better benefits than wash-off items like cleansers.

Other OTC ingredients that can help fade hyperpigmentation include: N-acetyl glucosamine,

Niacinamide, Vitamins A and C



A common treatment for PIH is hydroquinone, which is sold over the counter in dosages of 1% to 2% and prescribed in creams of 3% to 4%. The melanin-producing enzyme is blocked by hydroquinone, which lightens the skin by doing this.

When combined with hydroquinone, the following compounds can produce outcomes that are superior to those of using hydroquinone alone. These ingredients include: Kojic acid, Glycolic acid, Tretinoin and other retinoids, Vitamin C


Topical Retinoids

Topical retinoids are frequently prescribed by dermatologists to treat acne. This is so that retinoids can improve acne by accelerating cell turnover rates. Moreover, this quick exfoliation can aid in the fading of PIH.

Retinoid creams include: Retin-A (tretinoin), Retin-A Micro, Tazorac (tazarotene), Differin (adapalene)


Azelaic Acid

Another medication used to treat acne and PIH is azelaic acid. It works by reducing inflammation and increasing cell turnover rates. Azelaic acid is sometimes used in conjunction with glycolic acid or tretinoin.

Azelaic acid has been shown in some studies to be as effective as hydroquinone at treating hyperpigmentation. As a result, it is a good alternative for those who cannot use hydroquinone.


In-Office Treatments

More severe cases of PIH can be treated professionally at your dermatologist's office. Treatments include:

Chemical peels, Lasers, Microneedling, Microdermabrasion

One treatment is insufficient to reduce hyperpigmentation. You'll most likely need a series of treatments spaced two to four weeks apart (depending on the procedure). Your healthcare provider can assist you in determining which of these treatments, if any, would be most effective for you.