How To Guides

What is Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and How to Treat It

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A common side-effect of an acne breakout is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Read on to learn what it is and how to adapt your skincare routine to treat it.

What causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (also known as PIH) is caused by acne, bug bites, or some type of injury to the skin. You can have some post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after you popped a massive spot. But sometimes PIH can appear even if the spot wasn’t massive and you haven’t touched it.

When skin is damaged in an inflammatory way, the pigment-producing cells and the immune cells are affected. The skin produces more melanin, which is responsible for the colour of our skin. All skin types and tones can suffer from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. That said – it can be more pronounced in people with darker skin tones, as the colour is more intense and it persists for a longer period of time.

How does post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation look like?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation marks can vary in colour from pink and red to light brown and very dark (the colour depends on your skin tone). Furthermore, when exposed to UV rays, they can become even darker. They are located at the site of the skin where the trauma occurred. They can fade on its own over time, but how long it will take depends on the difference in the colour between the site of PIH and the surrounding skin.

How to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation?

To prevent the affected area of the skin from going even darker, it is essential to use sunscreen on a daily basis. If you are prone to spots and blemishes, it is easy to understand you are worried a thick sunscreen might make you break out. Luckily, the skincare industry has caught on and there are a lot (A LOT) of lightweight sunscreen options to choose from. Check this YouTube video created by Nadine Baggott to see some of the options available on the high street.

Once the inflamed cells stop producing the extra pigment, it still remains visible in the uppermost layers of the skin. Gentle chemical exfoliation helps to speed up the process of shedding old skin cells. We would recommend our Ultralase Mandelic Gluconic acid Face Wash. If you never used an Alpha-Hydroxy acid before, use the cleanser every other night for at least a fortnight. This allows your skin to get used to the product. Because of the antibacterial properties of Mandelic acid, regular cleansing with Ultralase Mandelic Gluconic Acid Face Wash helps to treat and reduce breakouts.

A vitamin C serum is another key product to have in your stash to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is a fabulous antioxidant that prevents and treats UV-induced photodamage and boosts collagen synthesis. But more importantly, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It helps to turn off the inflammatory response that causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Our Perfect & Glow Vitamin C serum uses Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (a stable water-soluble ester of the vitamin C) liposomes. It is oil-free and absorbs instantly without leaving a residue on the skin.

Another great active ingredient to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is Niacinamide.

Our Brighten Up Fluid combines 4% Niacinamide with Chromabright, a patented active made famous by luxury brands. It has been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation without the sensitising issues associated with Hydroquinone. Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) helps fade hyperpigmentation, reduces breakouts, and regulates sebum production.

Like with other active ingredients on our list, Retinol is a multi-tasker. Because it helps speed up the cell turnover, Retinol can help clear breakouts, as well as fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Our EFA ProRepair Facial oil has two star ingredients: 5% Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate and 2% Tocoretinate-10. Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate is a stable form of vitamin C which helps fade hyperpigmentation and encourages collagen synthesis. It is non-sensitising on the skin.

2% Tocoretinate-10 is a retinoic acid ester formed by bonding retinoic acid with vitamin E. Vitamin C, E, and Retinoic acid work in synergy to give you fantastic skin benefits in one product.

Did you ever have post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation? What did you use to treat it?

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Roberta Striga

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