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What Is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a medical term used to describe dark or discolored spots left on the skin after acne. It looks like a flat area of discoloration that is generally purple, brown or black in color (depending on the skin tone). PIH is prevalent in both men and women, although it’s more common in darker skin tones.

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about PIH.


What causes PIH?

PIH starts with an overproduction of melanin, the skin pigment that offers color to your skin, hair, and the iris of your eyes. Skin darkening occurs due to excess melanin production caused by inflammation, injury or unprotected sun exposure.


Post Acne:

The production of melanin can be triggered while the skin heals after acne.

PIH generally needs three things in order to flourish:

  1. Dead skin cells
  2. Acne bacteria
  3. A pore that can trap and foster the growth of the above two

When these three things occur one after the other, they result in acne development.

On sensing an attack, your body goes into defense mode and triggers the healing process to combat inflammation.

During this stage, an enzyme called Tyrosinase, located near the melanocytes signals the production of melanin through oxidation. This leads to skin darkening and discoloration (PIH).

The good thing is, the discoloration can fade over time. In some cases, the discolored spot may be present for a longer time (weeks or months). The spot may fade naturally as the skin goes through the regular desquamation cycles. However, lightening products may be required to speed up the process.


Can You Heal Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

How you should treat it

To treat PIH, you can consider the following measures:

  1. Use products that combat skin darkening: Products that contain tyrosinase inhibitors reduce the amount of melanin produced in the skin. They also prevent melanin from reaching the surface of the skin. You will also need a product that kills acne-causing bacteria and exfoliates dead skin cells off the skin surface to keep your pores clear.
  2. Avoid skipping sunscreen: Unprotected sun exposure can trigger melanocytes to produce excess melanin.  Use a sunscreen that has at least SPF 30 or higher to prevent further darkening.
  3. Do Not Touch Your Face: Touching your face constantly can transfer bacteria from your hands onto your face that result in acne development or increase in existing acne.

Following these tips can speed up healing. But, they may not always be sufficient to heal your skin.

To recover from PIH, a good skin care regimen - one that suits your unique skin profile and concerns - is advised by dermatologists.

SkinKraft’s products are customized to suit your skin characteristics and also address your skin issue, giving your skin all-around protection. Since your skin is unique, a regimen will be recommended -specially designed for your skin- based on your skin analysis through SkinKraft’s SkinID™ Questionnaire!


Want a skin care regimen that matches your skin’s exact needs? Start by understanding your skin’s unique profile by taking the SkinID™ questionnaire.

Take The SkinID™ Questionnaire!