The Ultimate Guide to Treating Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Exactly what are those red and brown dark marks that show up after a breakout? Here, we break it down with SLMD founder and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper).

Spoiler alert: these spots — not technically blemish scars at all — will fade over time with the right ingredients and products in your skincare arsenal.

A woman with less post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation after using Blemish-Prone Skin System by SLMD Skincare

What is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation?

According to Dr. Sandra Lee, dark spots — aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) — is caused by picking, extracting, and just experiencing blemishes, which causes trauma to the skin. These marks are a result of too much melanin being produced as the skin’s response to protect or heal itself.

Depending on your skin tone, they can appear more pink/red or darker brown. She may be Dr. Pimple Popper, but Dr. Lee does not condone popping your own spots — the risk of causing hyperpigmentation among the many reasons.

How to fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Though dark spots tend to fade over time, there are a few things you can do to speed the process along. Here are Dr. Lee's top tips for healing (and preventing) post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation:

  • Exfoliate the skin’s surface: try SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which exfoliates to promote a more consistent-looking complexion.
  • Encourage even tone: products containing vitamin A, like SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum, promote exfoliation and even skin tone.
  • Protect skin from UV rays which can darken existing marks by using sunscreen every day.
Retinol Serum by SLMD Skincare
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