Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, also known as PIH, is the formation of dark marks and spots on the skin that result from irritation or damage. PIH can occur due to many things, including acne, eczema, insect bites, cuts and even intense sun exposure.
Fortunately, there are some effective ways to prevent PIH from forming. These include using skincare products with calming ingredients like Liquorice Root, which has been proven to lighten pigmentation.
Avoid Picking Acne Spots
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation happens when your skin is irritated or damaged. It’s caused by the body making extra melanin to protect the damaged skin. Often, this leads to dark spots or patches. This is especially common in acne sufferers and people with darker complexions.
Picking at blemishes and rough spots, like dry patches or scabbed-over cuts, can cause infection. It can also disrupt the skin barrier and make scars worse. Plus, picking can reopen wounds and lead to more discoloration or redness.
Instead of picking at your acne, scabs or other blemishes, try covering them with a hydrocolloid bandage (like those pimple stickers) or a light layer of makeup. This covers the blemish and will physically deter you from touching it. You can also apply a spot-eradicating product that contains ingredients such as licorice extract, kojic acid and argan oil to reduce hyperpigmentation and fade dark spots faster. You can also use a face cream with a rich source of Vitamin C, which is available naturally in leafy greens and berries and is very effective at brightening the skin.
Avoid Sun Exposure
Irritation or damage to the skin can cause the body to produce too much pigment (melanin). This is referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH. Various skin problems can trigger PIH, including acne, burns, scrapes, cuts, eczema, insect bites, psoriasis, dermatitis and rosacea. PIH is more common in people with darker skin. It typically darkens the area where the injury occurred and looks like a patch of darkness, although it can vary in shade from light brown to black.
Typically, it takes months and sometimes even years for PIH to fade on its own. Sun exposure can make it worse by stimulating cells to produce more pigment. Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is a non-negotiable part of hyperpigmentation treatment. Experts recommend combining a chemical sunscreen with a physical sunscreen to layer protection and to reapply the sunscreen frequently. Wearing a hat and covering up with clothing is also helpful. Taking an antioxidant supplement or applying a topical compound inhibiting the pigment-producing enzyme tyrosinase may help treat PIH and fade the marks faster.
Each day, your body sheds dead skin cells and replaces them with new ones. But, if these cells aren’t removed regularly, your face can look clogged and dull. This is why exfoliation is a must!
But when choosing an exfoliant, be careful not to over-exfoliate. You don’t want to irritate your skin and cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Experts recommend starting with a gentle scrub or powder that contains natural ingredients like licorice extract. These ingredients help to reduce inflammation and lighten the appearance of dark marks on your skin.
You can also try a chemical peel with AHA or BHA acids. These multitaskers not only exfoliate but can also reduce the appearance of pores, soften fine lines and wrinkles, lighten pigmentation and even improve breakouts.
If you’re battling discoloration, one of the most important skin products you can use is the one on your vanity. While chemical exfoliation and expensive serums may help fade dark marks, a sunscreen with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection is non-negotiable. Look for sunscreens that contain antioxidants, like kopara extract, spinach, and green tea, to strengthen and nourish your skin.
Many things can trigger hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones, including acne, eczema, insect bites, psoriasis, medications, sun damage, and hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy. Once the source of the hyperpigmentation is eliminated, the dark spots usually disappear on their own.
You can speed up the process by using gentle exfoliating products that buff away dead skin and reduce the appearance of PIH. Also, using a tinted moisturizer with SPF, you can shield your skin from the sun without damaging it. Look for noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic sunscreens with safe ingredients for sensitive skin, such as niacinamide and zinc oxide. Also, find a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply it every two hours.
Drink Plenty of Water
A little discoloration after an acne outbreak is nothing to worry about, but if dark marks persist once your blemishes are gone, you may need help getting them to fade. Hyperpigmentation is a condition that occurs when the pigment melanin, which gives skin its brown color, is overproduced. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by various factors, such as dark spots or melasma.
Preventing hyperpigmentation due to inflammation is your best option. Treat your pimples with non-comedogenic moisturizers that will not irritate the skin. Avoid picking them. Protect yourself against sun damage using a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or more. Water will help keep your skin hydrated and reduce excess melanin.
Adding ingredients like licorice root and glabridin to your products can also speed up the time for dark marks to fade.