Acne Pigmentation Removal
Once a pimple heals, it can sometimes leave a mark in its place. Officially coined post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, these marks can linger for quite awhile, particularly if you have darker skin. If you do not want to wait for them to naturally fade, you have several treatment options available to you.
Cause of PIH
The inflammatory process that causes acne triggers the release of a variety of substances, including inflammatory hormones, such as prostaglandins, explains the New Zealand Dermatological Society. This process causes melanocytes to produces more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. As a result, a mark forms after the lesion has healed. Depending on your skin tone, they can range from pink to black. It can take up to six months to a year, or even longer for them to fade on their own.
Importance of Sunscreen
The sun can darken these spots, which can make them more noticeable and might also cause them to linger longer. The American Academy of Dermatology's online resource Acnenet recommends wearing sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30. This is particularly important if you are undergoing treatments for your PIH as sun exposure can lessen the effectiveness.
Caution About Acne Treatments
The AAD cautions against using acne treatments that include benzoyl peroxide, which dry out the skin. These sorts of medications can irritate the skin and prolong healing time of PIH.
Topical Treatment Options
Many topical treatments can treat PIH by lightening the skin or exfoliating the top layers to reveal undamaged skin underneath. Dermatologist Audrey Kunin, writing for her site Dermadoctor.com, suggest hydroquinone for brown or black spots. You can find OTC products that contain this ingredient but stronger, prescription strength versions will probably offer better results.
Other topical treatment options include creams made with exfoliants that include glycolic acid and derivatives of vitamin A like retinoids. Many prescription topical treatments contain a combination of these agents for optimal effectiveness. You can find OTC products made with these ingredients but they exist in a much weaker form compared with prescription medications.
While a more expensive option, many dermatological procedures can improve PIH. Kunin highly recommends chemical peels for acne pigmentation and believes they are one of the most effective treatments. Resist the urge to buy do-it-yourself chemical peels on the Internet --- you can do serious damage to your skin. In addition, they might not be suitable for all skin types and a dermatologist can help you determine if a peel is an appropriate treatment. You typically need several sessions for optimal benefit.
Laser treatments have also gained popularity for scars and acne pigmentation. Like chemical peels, you will require several sessions for optimal benefit. If you have darker skin, this treatment carries a risk of worsening pigmentation and creating skin color changes. While slight, these treatments also carry the risk of infections and scarring. Recovery time can vary depending on the type of laser treatment.
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