Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs after your skin has been injured or irritated, resulting in a build up of melanin in the affected area. It can affect both your dermis and your epidermis and results in dark patches of skin, often brown or even purple in colour. While post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can go away by itself and isn’t considered a permanent condition, it can take anywhere from three months to two years to fade naturally. As with most skin conditions, prevention is better than cure. Read on to find out how to prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Avoid harsh chemicals and skin treatments
In some cases, harsh chemicals or other skin treatments may be recommended to treat skin conditions such as acne and it has been suggested that chemical peels and laser therapy can even help to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation. However, due to how harsh these treatments can be on the skin, this can lead to damage or irritation, which then results in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This type of treatment should be used as a last resort because the risks can outweigh the benefits.
Treat your skin with soothing skincare products
Rather than using harsh chemicals, you should be regularly treating your skin with soothing skincare products which contain naturally occurring ingredients. There are plenty of skincare products out there which are designed to be anti-inflammatory, such as our own moisturising face cream. According to A Review of the Epidemiology, Clinical Features, and Treatment Options in Skin of Color by the National Library of Medicine, “There are a variety of medications and procedures in addition to photoprotection that can safely and effectively treat PIH in darker skinned patients. Topical depigmenting agents, such as hydroquinone, azelaic acid, kojic acid, licorice extract, and retinoids, can be effective alone or in combination with other agents” (Source).Our products use ingredients such as licorice extract to reduce inflammation and lighten areas of hyperpigmentation.
Protect yourself from sun damage
When it comes to preventing hyperpigmentation, protecting yourself from sun damage is one of the most important factors to consider. While sun damage doesn’t necessarily cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, it will make it worse if you already have it and it can cause hyperpigmentation by stimulating the production of excess melanin. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more to protect your skin from sun damage. This is particularly important for protecting your face from hyperpigmentation, as the skin around your mouth and eyes is prone to hyperpigmentation and irritation.
Don’t pick your spots
Acne is one of the main causes of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation as it causes skin follicles to become blocked and bacteria to grow, causing inflammation. Acne can’t be avoided in most cases, however the way you deal with it can help to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is incredibly important that you do not pick your spots, as this can cause acne scars as well as increasing your chances of suffering from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Consult a doctor or dermatologist about medication for skin conditions
If you have a skin condition such as acne or eczema which needs treating, you should consult your doctor or dermatologist on the best way to deal with that condition whilst avoiding negative side effects such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. A dermatologist will be able to advise you on the best course of action based on your particular skin condition, type and tone.
Does sunscreen prevent hyperpigmentation?
As previously mentioned, sunscreen can help to prevent hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage as it protects the skin from the sun’s UV rays which can increase the rate of melanin production in the skin. It will also help to prevent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from getting worse, so it’s definitely a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to avoid hyperpigmentation in general!