Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Causes and treatments

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a darkening of the skin that often occurs after a skin condition. Skin specialists often use the term PIH to describe these pigmentation spots. The size, shape and number of PIH spots usually correspond to the original condition or damage to the skin. For example, acne may leave raised or flat dark spots. It can also happen that the structure of the skin does not change. PIH is generally harmless, but can be perceived as cosmetically disturbing.

What causes (PIH) pigment spots?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs as a result of a skin irritation, a wound or a skin inflammation, post-inflammatory literally means after-inflammation. During the healing process of a wound or skin disease, pigment cells (melanocytes) are stimulated and melanin (pigment) is produced. This then causes pigment spots in the skin. The damaged skin may have completely recovered, but pigment spots often form, and they only become more intense when exposed to sunlight.

The formation of pigment spots after skin damage mainly occurs in people with dark skin, brown hair or brown eyes. People with Asian or Black skin types suffer a lot from it. The darker the skin, the greater the chance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and the longer it takes for spots to disappear and the skin to return to normal. More about characteristics of Asian skin

Acne is a well-known skin condition in which pigment spots arise as a result of inflammation. Especially people with a dark skin type suffer from PIH with acne, because they have a more active pigment system than people with a lighter skin. There are also certain drugs that can cause PIH. Read the article on drugs and photosensitivity to learn more about this.

In addition to acne and other skin damage, PIH can also occur in areas that are scratched a lot. Although too much pigment is formed in melasma (pregnancy mask), it is seen as a separate skin disease that is not preceded by inflammation of the skin.

How can I take care of myself?

Look closely at your skin. If you suffer from an underlying skin condition, you should treat it as best as possible to prevent new pigment spots.

Do you have a wound or healing spot? Then protect it well with sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide AND zinc oxide works immediately and gives your skin the least irritation.

Let wounds heal properly and stay away from that scab. We all know how tempting it is to scratch it off, but try to touch it as little as possible. If you really can’t, you can safely cover the spots with a plaster.

Try to scratch as little as possible with itchy skin conditions.

Other advices

Below are some tips on how to treat pigmentation spots effectively and efficiently:

During the day it is important to use mineral sun protection with at least SPF30 and to choose cosmetic ingredients that reduce pigment spots. You can also tone down your skin with some cosmetic skin care ingredients, including Vitamin A, C, Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Arbutin, Kojic Acid, and Resveratrol.

There is also such a thing as camouflage therapy. When pigment spots are very dark, make-up may not conceal it sufficiently. The skin therapist can use camouflage therapy to make color creams that match your skin to cover your pigmentation spots.

Postinflammatoire Hyperpigmentation Pih

Another option is chemical peeling. The peeling is done under the supervision of a skin specialist and stimulates the skin to flake off faster and to renew itself. As a result, spots will fade faster and pigment will become lighter.

Bij microneedling worden er door middel van de dermapen hele kleine gaatjes in de huid gemaakt. This ensures that a skin renewal process is started and the skin will renew itself. Because it is done in a controlled way, the chance of new pigment formation is smaller, even in people with darker skin types.

Do not buy bleaching creams yourself. They often contain substances such as hormone ointments that can thin the skin if used for a long time without instructions from your doctor. Consult with a skin therapist or possibly your doctor or pharmacist if you want to apply a bleaching cream.

While you are here

Hyperpigmentation is caused in the skin by overproduction of a pigment known as melanin. There are 2 types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin is brown-black and it protects us against ultraviolet light (photo-protective). Pheomelanin is yellow-red, photo-reactive and does not protect against ultraviolet radiation. Read more here: Pigment and what you can do about it

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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