Acne can be a real drag when you’re in the middle of an outbreak, but you take comfort in knowing that you won’t always be plagued by those unsightly marks on your skin. However, once your skin has cleared from the blemishes caused by acne, you realize that you are left with blotchy, discolored skin. What gives?
Why Does Acne Cause Skin Discoloration?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH,) or acquired melanosis, is the term used to describe discoloration of the skin that occurs after an inflammatory wound heals. This pigmentation is the skin’s natural response to inflammation.
The discolored areas of the skin caused by PIH are flat and can occur in several colors, including pink, red, purple, brown or even black. The color of PIH depends on your natural skin tone and the depth of the discoloration.
PIH occurs when a wound inflames your skin, in the case of acne, the wounds are those pimple-like lesions. As the wound heals, the skin can produce an excessive amount of melanin, the protein in skin that gives it its color.
This excess melanin darkens the skin, leaving behind discolored patches, even after the acne lesions have cleared. The more inflamed the skin becomes, the larger and darker the discolored spots tend to be. Also, popping or picking the blemishes caused by acne can worsen the effects of PIH because doing so increases the inflammation.
Treatment for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
It’s important to understand that post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is not truly a scar, which means that the discoloration may eventually fade without treatment. However, it can take a long time for those discolored areas to fade.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can speed up fading process caused by PIH. The treatment option that will work best for you depends on the severity of your skin discoloration.
Some of the most common treatments for PIH include:
- Hydroquinone: This topical cream lightens the discoloration caused by acnes by blocking the enzyme that is responsible for the production of melanin, which, in turn, lightens the skin. These creams usually contain additional lightening ingredients, such as glycolic acid, vitamin C, kojic acid and tretinoin, which can improve the results of the cream. Hydroquinone is available over-the-counter in 1%-2% strength, and by prescription in 3% to 4% strength.
- Restorative Skin Care Products: There are several skin care products that are formulated to lighten and replenish the skin. The Fair and Flawless Facial Collection from Skintrium is uniquely designed to improve the discoloration caused by acne. The products in this collection offer powerful results that, when used regularly, can be seen within just a few days.
- Physical Treatments: Chemical peels, laser treatments and intense pulsed light therapies can also lighten discolored skin caused by PIH. It is important to note, though, that these physical treatments have the potential to aggravate the condition because the can further injure the skin.
Speak with your dermatologist to learn more about post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and to find out the best treatment options for your specific condition.