Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is the medical term for the dark pink or brown spots that remain on your skin after acne lesions have healed. PIH occurs when the skin inflammation from acne or other stimuli triggers the skin to produce too much melanin, the protein in the skin which gives the skin its color.

Is PIH a scar?

Fortunately, PIH is not a scar. It’s only the remainder of a previous acne lesion. PIH fades in anywhere from 3 – 24 months; however, there are treatment options for PIH so you can achieve healthier, clearer skin more quickly. Also, patients should note that picking or popping a pimple increases the odds of PIH lesions.

Topical skin treatment options

There are several over-the-counter treatments that include a combination of acids to exfoliate the skin, with some containing lightening agents. Hydroquinone is another treatment that blocks the enzyme responsible for melanin production and is also combined with lightening agents for more effective treatment. Prescription treatments like topical retinoids clear acne with rapid exfoliation which also helps clear PIH. Some of these treatments can irritate the skin so it’s best to consult with your doctor before treatment. Results can also take several weeks.

Chemical peels

The blemishes of PIH can be removed by chemical peels that exfoliate the skin to reveal the softer, fresher skin beneath. Several peels may be required.


These treatments gently exfoliate the skin and offer no downtime. Multiple treatments are necessary to effectively treat PIH.

Laser peels

Laser peels treat PIH by gently vaporizing your skin to reveal the new, fresh skin cells beneath. Multiple treatments may be necessary.

Fractional skin resurfacing (FSR)

FSR uses targeted microbeams to heat tissue, and the healing process forms new, healthy tissue. Multiple treatments may be necessary.

As new treatments emerge, we’ll keep you informed. Always remember that the use of sun screen is important not only while undergoing the above treatments, but also to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.

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