Post-inflammatory hypopigmentation refers to a decrease in skin pigment following skin injury and inflammation. Inflammation leading to pigment change can be very mild and may not be noticeable in some cases.
In response to inflammation, there can be a decrease in pigment referred to as hypopigmentation. This appears as a shade lighter than the surrounding normal skin color. On the other hand, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is an increased amount of pigment that appears darker 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 less pigment in hypopigmentation.
Over time the degree of pigment change often reduces even without treatment and the hypopigmented area becomes less apparent. This can take many months to even years. It is important with hypopigmentation 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.
- Vitamin D creams: Vitamin D topical medications have also been used in conditions with decreased pigment and may help increase pigmentation.
- Light therapy: Some cases of hypopigmentation can be treated with ultraviolet light therapy.
1. Vachiramon V, Thadanipon K. Postinflammatory hypopigmentation. Clin Exp Dermatol.2011;36(7):708-714; PMID: 21671990.