Word of the Month: Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a temporary pigmentation that follows injury or trauma to the skin (for example if triggered by dermabrasion, laser therapies etc). It is generally seen in Fitzpatrick skin types 4, 5 and 6. But it can be observed in lighter skin types as well.  

PIH appear as flat spots of discolouration. They are usually not raised and range in color from pink to red, brown or black. The color depends on skin tone and depth of discolouration.


What causes Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation? 

There are many causes of PIH but most importantly, they all cause some sort of injury or trauma to the skin. Although the cause of PIG is not from the sun, the sun can aggravate the symptoms and darken the affected area. Some common esthetic treatments that may cause PIH are:

  • Dermabrasions
  • Chemical peels
  • Laser treatments
  • Microneedling
  • Fibroblast Plasma Lift
  • Extractions

There is good new though, PIG does not cause scarring, and even without treatment, it will improve over time. Recovery varies (depending on intensity of injury and skin type) but it can take anywhere from four to 24 months for the darkened areas to fade.


Treatments for PIH

There are a variety of topical treatments that are available to lighten the hyperpigmented spot.

Laser Therapies

Removal by laser therapy, or IPL delete can lighten the PIH and cause skin cells to regenerate new skin. Although this can treat PIH it can also make the condition worse.

Chemical Peels (AHA)

Glycolic Acid peel can be used as a topical treatment for PIH. 


This is a powerful skin bleaching agent that can help lighten PIH. Look for moisturizers with this ingredient in it.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a great skin brightener and has been proven to be effective against PIH.


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