What is 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 is increased melanin levels, a pigment that determines the skin color. To protect, heal and repair skin damage, melanin production triggers to release excessive melanosomes (pigment granules). These elevated levels of pigment granules cause darkening and discoloring of the wounded area.
How long does it take for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation to fade?
In present times, Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) has become the most concerned problem for many people while visiting a dermatologist. Treatment for Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) depends on the severity of discoloration, skin tone, and natural exfoliation ability of the skin. In other words, 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 epidermis), pigmentation can last for years.
What are the treatments available 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
- 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 skincare specialist or dermatologist.
What is the best treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to mosquito or insect bites?
That irritable itch after a mosquito bite is experienced by everyone in their lifetime. With its bite, mosquito injects saliva into the skin, which is identified as a foreign substance by our immune system. It leads to an allergic reaction in the body that creates red raised itchy bumps. Usually, most people remain unaffectedby mosquito bites, since it heals with time. However, some people are sensitive to mosquito bites, which causes severe allergies and end ups with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
There are several topical treatments available for the cure of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. While looking for a solution to clear awful looking blotch, dark spots, or pitted scars, it becomes imperative to prevent your skin from being exposed to harsh chemicals and treatments. In other words, effective but harmless treatment should be your preference. Below mentioned are few topical agents that have been found to be effective in the treatment of Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).
1. Allium Cepa Bulb Extract
Laden with anti-inflammatory properties, Allium Cepa (onion) works effectively to reduce inflammation in the scar area. In order to repair skin damage after an infection or any insect bite, our body starts forming new collagen fibers. This causes the deposition of excessive amounts of collagen fibers on the scar area that ultimately leads to forming raised or pitted scars. Therefore, to smoothen the skin surface, it is required to reduce the amount of these fibers on the affected skin area. It is reported that Allium Cepa Bulb Extract may rebalance the collagen production that subsequently helps to reduce the size of the scar, making it less noticeable on face. Such collagen rebalancing property of onion is helpful for people who experience keloid scars (raised area over an acne scar).
Furthermore, several studies have identified the efficacy of Allium Cepa Bulb Extract in improving post hyperpigmentation conditions.A study published in "Journal of Wound Care" in 2007 stated that the regular application of onion extract may help to reduce the size of scars along with improving discoloration. Another research study conducted in 2001 found out that onion extractimproves the collagen organization of rabbit ear scars. Whereas, another study sighted positive effect of onion extract in lightening the skin tone.
2. Sodium Hyaluronate (Hydroquinone)
Dermatologists consider hydroquinone as one of the most effective ingredients for reducing hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone acts as a bleaching compound that inhibits the tyrosine enzyme, which is involved in the conversion of tyrosine to melanin.
3. Olea Europaea Leaf Extract (Olive)
Certain studies have suggested that external application of 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 skin rejuvenation and overall skin health.
Allantoin is obtained from natural plant sources including sugar beet, comfrey, and chamomile, etc. Due to its astonishing skin benefits, it is extensively used in several skin care products such as cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and face gels. It is a great ingredient to include if one is facing acne scars, pitted or rough skin. It helps in healing scars and marks by stimulating cell regeneration and skin rejuvenation process. In addition to this, its moisturizing properties offer smooth and healthy effects to the skin with a balanced tone. To know more about Allantoin read here
- Limit sun exposure, especially during intense hours of the day.
- Cover your body properly and use an umbrella whenever possible.
- To prevent further darkening of skin, application of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis is strictly advisable for people with Post- inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).
- Use of Vitamin C based products regularly is very beneficial as it helps to boost collagen production, removes dark spots, and combats sun damage.
- Since discoloration causes dead skin cell build up, exfoliation becomes very important. Preferably, using the gentle exfoliator containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) derived from natural fruit sources is an ideal option. This is because their mild exfoliating properties help to clear all the cell debris thereby revealing a new layer of skin.