Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation Treatment - Adelaide
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation refers to those dark marks left behind after a pimple heals. For some these dark marks can be even more distressing than the pimples themselves.
So, why do these dark marks form and what can be done about them when they do? Read on to learn more.
How it works
What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is the term used to describe skin pigmentation that occurs after you get an inflammatory wound.
PIH looks like a flat patch of discoloured skin (also known as a macule). The colour may range from pink, red, brown or black depending on the skin tone of the person and the depth or discolouration.
When a wound becomes inflamed, this is when PIH can develop. During the healing process, the skin develops too much melanin. It is the excess melanin that causes the skin surrounding the lesion to become darker looking. The discoloration will remain even after the wound has healed.
PIH can develop in all skin types. It does, however, tend to be more severe in people that have darker complexions. Both men and women are affected by PIH equally.
Is acne the cause of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation?
PIH is very common, especially amongst those that suffer from acne. It is not just the big blackheads that cause these spots. Even small pimples can develop PIH.
The larger a breakout, the larger and darker the PIH spots tend to become. Picking and popping pimples is never a good idea because the area becomes more inflamed, which increases the chance of PIH developing.
Are acne scars the same as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation?
Some people think that PIH is in fact scarring, but you will be relieved to know that this is not the case, instead the scarring is called pseudo scarring because it leaves a mark on the skin for a period of time.
A true scar occurs when there is either a loss of tissue (pitted scars) or an overgrowth of tissue (raised scars). PIH is always flat, so it is definitely not scarring.
Does PIH fade over time?
You will be pleased to know that PIH can fade away over time, even if you do not receive any treatment for it. However, it may take up 24 months for PIH to fully fade away by itself.
If there is a large difference in colour between the macule and the surrounding skin then it usually takes much longer for it to fade. In some cases, PIH does not fade away on its own and can become permanent.
If you are not keen on waiting for ages for the spots to fade naturally on their own then there are treatments available that can help to speed up the process. Most treatments will help to lighten macules considerably.
What are the treatment options for PIH?
For subtle marks, you may find over the counter product to be successful. For deeper marks that have been around for a long time, you will definitely find prescription creams to be a much better choice.
It is worth keeping in mind that if you can beat acne from occurring, then you will also stop any hyperpigmentation (PIH) that develops as a result of the acne. Dr Targett can help you put a stop to your acne and help you heal your PIH.
There are several treatment options available for PIH. Improvements will always take some time to be seen.
Medical treatments usually work using two mechanisms; increasing the turnover rate of new cells and inhibiting the production of melanin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Alpha hydroxy acids, especially glycolic acid, are a great treatment to get you started. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) help speed up the skin’s natural exfoliation process, which can help improve the look of PIH.
Stronger AHA treatments can be purchased with a prescription. AHAs are often used as anti-aging treatments as they will leave your skin soft and smooth.
Hydroquinone is a widely used treatment for PIH. It’s available over the counter in 1 percent to 2 percent strengths, and in 3 percent to 4 percent prescription creams. Hydroquinone works by blocking the enzyme responsible for melanin production, thereby lightening the skin.
Hydroquinone creams should be carefully applied to darkened areas only, to prevent the unwanted lightening of your natural skin color. Hydroquinone may cause skin irritation for some people so it’s worth talking to your GP or Dr Rahma Targett before beginning hydroquinone treatment.
Topical retinoids are often prescribed to treat acne. Retinoids help clear acne by speeding up cell turnover rates. This rapid exfoliation can also help fade PIH.
Excessive dryness, redness, and irritation can trigger PIH on its own.
Dr Rahma Targett
Dr Rahma Targett is a General Practitioner(FRACGP), with a specialty in Cosmetic Medicine. She founded Advanced Cosmetic Medicine in 2016 and has since become well known as a trusted and in demand Cosmetic Physician in Adelaide. She has a Diploma in Dermoscopy and a Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine with the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine. Dr Targett is a leader in her field and regularly attends Cosmetic conferences to keep up to date with modern aesthetic techniques. At advanced Cosmetic Medicine you can always be reassured that you will be welcomed and treated personally by Dr Rahma Targett.