Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation: Acne Reminders

November 12, 2012

Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation: Acne Reminders

Even after acne clears up, the natural post inflammatory response of the skin often causes more concern and distress for acne sufferers.

Acne is colorblind when it comes to affecting people of different skin tones. Unfortunately, darker skin has a tendency to develop dark spots known as post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. These spots are a common side effect on the skin after acne has cleared up. While many people believe that it is the type of acne treatments being used that result in these dark marks, it is actually the body’s natural inflammatory response to the pimples. The darkening is not permanent even though it is often confused with scarring. It can be very disconcerting to a person when skin acne clears up only to be replaced with signs of post inflammatory response.


There is no 100% way to keep your body from reacting to acne its own natural way, but a person can do things to reduce the likelihood of post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. The easiest way to prevent the dark spots is by keeping your acne in control in the first place. This may sound somewhat redundant since the cause of the spots is the healing of acne, but the less acne you suffer from on a regular basis, the less chance of developing the marks. If you currently have acne, it is important not to pick at the pimples. This can be very tempting for many people especially when they are trying to pop the aggravating bumps. Go ahead and pop them if it is absolutely necessary while making sure to leave the area alone afterwards. Another common mistake made by individuals is their attempts at removing the post inflammatory spots. Do not scrub at the dark markings. Even though it may make sense to try to exfoliate off the problem areas, this kind of irritation will only make them worse and can make them last even longer.


So now that your acne has cleared up, what can you do to help clear up the annoying discoloring that has appeared? There are a number of treatment options for post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. The large variety makes it easy for people from all areas to find something that may work for their skin. Treatment options include some of the following:

  • Wear sunscreen- The use of sunscreen will help the marks clear faster by keeping the harsh rays of the sun from making them worse.

  • Face peels- There are a number of different peels that can be performed such as TCA peels, mandelic acid peels, and salicylic acid peels. Make sure to have a professional administer the peels for safety purposes.

  • Laser treatments- The results from laser treatments are on par with the results from other treatments. Laser therapy is often used when topical treatments are not producing the desired results.

  • Nicotinamide- Recent research suggests that this drug is helpful for treating the inflammation that causes the hyper-pigmentation.

  • Dry ice cryotherapy- Some doctors have started using dry ice to clear up dark spots.

  • Medications such as Retinoids and Hydroquinone- These are topical treatments which means they are applied directly to the skin. They operate by having a lightening effect on the skin. Hydroquinone is FDA approved for the lightening of dark spots.

If you are greatly concerned about how your skin may be reacting to acne, inflammation, or any treatment, get in touch with a dermatologist who will be able to suggest something specifically for your skin.

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