Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation refers to an increaese in skin pigment following skin injury and inflammation.[1] Inflammation leading to darkening pigment change can be mild and may not be noticeable in some cases.


In response to inflammation, there can be an increase in pigment referred to as hyperpigmentation. This appears as a shade darker than the surrounding normal skin color. On the other hand, post-inflammatory hypopigmentation is a decreased amount of pigment that appears lighter than the surrounding normal skin color. 


Inflammation can result in a change in the skin’s ability to create pigment, resulting in more or less pigment or melanin. Inflammation can be caused by any number of things including in part: a rash, trauma, laser treatment, or surgery. The inflammation causes the pigment producing cells, known as melanocytes, to produce more pigment in hyperpigmentation.  



Over time the degree of pigment change often reduces even without treatment and the hyperpigmented area becomes less apparent. This can take many months to even years. It is important with hyperpigmentation to protect the skin with sunblock on a daily basis to prevent any further pigment alteration. 

  • Steroids: Reducing or eliminating the underlying source of inflammation can be done with many medications and would be targeted to the specific cause. Often topical steroids are given topically. In some cases the steroids may be injected into the inflammation. 
  • Pigment reducers: Hyperpigmentation can be treated with pigment reducing creams such as hydroquinone under the careful supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.  
  • Chemical peels: Carefully peeling the superficial layers of the skin can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation but this should not be used for hypopigmentation. 
  • Laser: Some lasers are capable of reducing pigmentation in cases of hyperpigmentation.[2] 

1.    Alexis AF. New and emerging treatments for hyperpigmentation. J Drugs Dermatol.2014;13(4):382-385; PMID: 24719055.