Scarring can lead to rough texture in the skin, an increase of collagen bundles, and a lack of hair follicles or sweat glands. However, it may also create discoloration within the skin, with damaged tissue taking on a darker shade. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and it ranks among the most common effects of hypertrophic, keloid, and atrophic scarring.
What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when a body’s cellular process is changed. Damaged tissue is detected and several chemical responses occur, with a sudden increase of collagen, protein, and melanin (the property that determines the color of a person’s skin, eyes, and hair). These elements are meant to heal the scar. However, they often trigger a sudden darkening of the skin.
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How Does Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation Affect Scars?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation directly targets scars, sending an excess of melanin to the damaged tissue. This causes instant discoloration, especially around the edges, and can create a variety of shades: brown, black, gray, or even red. Spotting, freckling, or patching can also occur.
It should be noted that no pain is associated with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Its effect on scars is purely cosmetic. However, those suffering from the condition may still wish to treat it.
What Solutions are Available for Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation has no cure, but it does have several treatments – all of which can lessen its severity and restore most of the skin’s original texture. These include:
Topical Scar Creams
Topical scar creams prove ideal for treating most post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation cases. They offer much-needed nutrients (such as Vitamin C) that penetrate the skin and restore balance to the melanin production cycle.
Those experiencing extreme post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may find topical creams lacking. Chemical peels may instead be needed to address the issue. These options remove layers of damaged skin, softening both the appearance of scars and the starkness of discoloration.
Ultra-violet rays can exacerbate the effects of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Those wishing to correct the issue must therefore protect their skin. Use lotions with high SPF counts and avoid extended exposure to the sun.
These methods have been proven as successful in the treatment post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. However, it is important to note that the healing process can never be guaranteed. Results will vary.
Hydroquinone: A Warning
A common treatment for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is Hydroquinone. This skin-bleaching agent is meant to counter discoloration and lighten skin’s overall appearance, but these results come with a cost.
Hydroquinone has a high toxicity level. This means it can cause severe damage to the skin, including blistering, burn marks, new discoloration, and extreme tightness. While the product is legal and available without a prescription, it should be avoided. There are better, safer alternatives.
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