What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs after there is damage or irritation to the skin. The skin involved turns tan, brown, or purple, which brings about the term hyperpigmentation. It is very common in skin of color with over 65% of African Americans experiencing symptoms.
What causes PIH?
Irritation or damage to the skin, can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Skin of color has more pigment (melanin) so there is more of a chance of PIH with certain skin problems.
PIH can be epidermal (top layer of skin), dermal (deeper layer of skin) or mixed. This classification is based on the depth of hyperpigmentation in the skin.
How can PIH be treated?
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation can take months to years to fully clear. PIH can be extremely difficult to change or reverse. For effective long-term treatment of PIH, it is essential to treat the underlying skin problem that is leading to the discoloration. In addition, certain treatments can speed up the process, such as topical retinoids, corticosteroid, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, kojic acid, along with procedures such as needling and light chemical peels.
Dermal PIH is more difficult to treat and may require more aggressive therapy such as chemical peels.
Sunlight can cause PIH to darken, so it is important to utilize protection from the sun.