Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Pigmentation on Face

What is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)?

PIH is also called Pigmented Scars. Any time your skin gets injured or becomes red (sun, heat, acne, laser treatments that peel off the skin, or misuse/overuse of products such as Retin A, Hydroquinone, home chemical peels, and bleaching creams), the skin heals by inflammation.

Inflammation causes melanocyte (spot producing cells) to send melanin or pigment to the skin surface to protect it. This leaves spots such as acne spots, or blotchiness that looks like a patch throughout areas of the face. Sometimes PIH can mimic melasma. Many people who attempt to treat melasma after various aggressive peeling lasers and chemical peels may actually have PIH resting on top of their melasma. Therefore, both exist together. The good news is both can be and are treated the same way.

PIH is not as deep as melasma and can therefore respond to  Spectral Q-switch  laser faster than melasma.

We usually recommend preparing the skin with bleaching cream for 6 weeks (for ethnic skin) prior to the treatment, which will minimize the development of PIH. In any case, we recommend completing a minimum of 12 Spectral lasers combined with a light superficial Fraxel at the end (Using the new Fraxel Dual Laser). We also implement cooling measures before, during, and after treatment to prevent inflammation.

IPL Green Laser - For Skin PigmentationSpectral Laser by Lutronic


Suppression Therapy

Sun greatly increase formation of PIH.  Avoid sun exposure. You will need “Suppression Therapy”: Daily application of Cosmeceuticals that suppress melanocyte from being activated by heat and sun.


Factors that stimulate melanocytes: 

  • #1 cause: Sun!
  • Dryness and Inflammation
  • Pregnancy and hormonal contraceptives
  • Hormonal irregularities
  • Aging
  • Stress hormones triggered by lack of sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Smoke
  • Inflammatory diet such as fast food
  • Genetics


Melanocytes suppression therapy topicals:

  • Clarity Moisturizer (Safe for long term use)
  • Brightening pads ( 0% to 10%)
  • 4 in 1 Skin Lightening
  • Super Hydrator with Licorice
  • Post Spectra brightening gel
  • Vit C Pro Collagen Brightening Serum


Consider anti – inflammatory detox diet and good sleep, exercise, and taking anti-oxidants supplements.  IV infusion of Liver Detox / anti-aging/skin lightening program is available.   Learn more about IV detox here.