What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?

What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?

What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?

Finally, acne has  cleared! But sadly, you have got no relaxation from finding new over-the-counter products and home remedies to clear dark spots that acne left behind.  Dermatologists describe these dark spots as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which occurs when a big pimple injures deeper layers of your skin. We understand that ending up the vicious cycle of acne brings with it a  lot of frustration and negative emotions. You are going to get a sense of calm and relaxation by knowing that post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a temporary skin condition.  Recent researches suggest that with the help of topical ingredients it is easy to clear the acne marks completely.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the term used for darkening of skin color due to skin injury, inflammation, or skin infections. The underlying cause of PIH has increased melanin levels, a pigment that determines skin color. To protect, heal, and repair skin damage, melanin production increases in the skin which finally causes darkening and discoloring of the wounded area.


  • Inflamed acne
  • Physical injury
  • Skin infection
  • Burns

Acne Scars vs. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)



Both acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occur after inflammatory skin conditions like acne. However, both conditions affect your skin differently. Acne scars form when acne infection penetrates and damages the dermis layer (beneath the epidermis) of your skin. To heal the damage,  your body starts producing excessive amounts of collagen fibers on the affected area which ultimately gives rise to pitted scars. Whereas in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, your damaged skin appears darker than surrounding skin due to overactivity of melanin pigment. Dermatologists explain that people with dark skin tones are more prone to Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation and any other type of hyperpigmentation such as melasma.

Physical treatments for  post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Several cosmetic treatments are available in the market to treat PIH with varying degrees of success. Some of these are

  • Chemical peels
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Laser therapy
  • Intense pulsed light
  • Fraxel pigment laser (FPL)

However, it has been reported that these therapies have a greater risk of skin damage. Hence, before undergoing any of these procedures it is important to discuss the positive and negative aspects with a skin care specialist or dermatologist.

Topical treatments for  post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

There are several topical treatments available for the cure of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. While looking for a solution to clear blotches, dark spots, or pitted scars, it becomes pertinent to prevent your skin from being exposed to harsh chemicals and treatments. Put it simply, effective but harmless treatment should be your preference.

  • Allium Cepa Bulb Extract
  • Olea Europaea Leaf Extract
  • Sodium Hyaluronate (Hydroquinone)
  • Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract
  • Bulbine Frutescens Leaf Juice

  Topical treatments for  post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

1. Allium Cepa Bulb Extract 

Several studies have stated that the external application of onion extract can help to reduce the size of acne scars along with fading away post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. According to a 2011 research study,  quercetin in onion inhibits the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme to control excess melanin production in the skin. Onion is also a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E which helps to clear dark spots caused by acne.  Additionally,  Allium Cepa Bulb Extract rebalances the collagen production that subsequently helps to reduce the size of the scar, making it less noticeable on your face. Such collagen rebalancing property of onion helps to prevent the formation of new dermal scars when acne heals completely.

2. Olea Europaea Leaf Extract

Certain studies have suggested that Oleuropein may help in accelerating wound healing after skin surgery. Olive leaves are packed with a high concentration of bioactive antioxidant compounds like Oleuropein. These compounds are known to promote natural skin radiance and  rejuvenation.

3. Sodium Hyaluronate

Sodium Hyaluronate is considered an ideal ingredient for all skin types, especially acne-prone skin. It helps to improve the skin texture, tone, and overall appearance of skin. Its skin hydrating properties help to nourish and heal the damaged skin meanwhile brightening the skin surface. A research study in the journal of Dermato endocrinology has elaborated the benefits of  Sodium Hyaluronate in enhancing the moisture content in skin layers.



4. Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract

Many pharmacological investigations have figured out that Daisy Flower Extract reduces the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme liable for the formation of melanin. It helps to diminish the appearance of dark spots on the skin. Furthermore, natural skin brightening properties of Daisy Flower Extract are due to  the presence of a naturally occurring substance called L-arbutin

5. Bulbine Frutescens Leaf Juice

Bulbine Frutescens Leaf Juice is obtained from a  plant Bulbine frutescens, also known as Stalked bulbine. It is a great ingredient to try to get rid of acne scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It helps in healing scars and dark spots by stimulating skin regeneration and rejuvenation process.

How long does it take for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation to fade?

In present times, Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) has become the most concerning problem for many people. Treatment for Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) depends on the severity of discoloration, skin tone, and natural exfoliation ability of the skin. It is said that if hyperpigmentation affects only the epidermis layer of the skin, then it takes approximately 6- 12 months to achieve the desired results. However, if PIH affects the dermis (layer lies beneath the epidermis), pigmentation can take a longer time to fully fade away.


What Is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?


Dermatologists explain that in most patients, inflamed acne has been acknowledged as a major cause of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  And also, people having acne-prone skin are at risk of developing acne scars and PIH marks Thereby, it is necessary to follow a  good anti-acne skin care regimen to save your skin from all the long-term damage. Always remember that good skin care is a  mantra for healthy glowing skin.



Sun protection is an integral part of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Direct contact with UV rays trigger melanin production in the skin which can cause more darkening of your PIH marks. To prevent further darkening of the skin, a broad-spectrum sunscreen having  SPF value of more than 50 is considered a strong preventive measure from sun rays. Sunscreens containing physical filters like  Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are effective and safe for all skin types.





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