When pimples clear up, you want to see clear skin. But some people develop colored spots, called hyperpigmentation, from their acne. These hyperpigmented spots, which appear as pimples are healing and which stick around for months or even years, appear in tan, brown, red, pink or even purple. They will fade eventually, but you can take steps to make them disappear sooner.
Colored spots, technically called "post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," develop as a result of the swelling and inflammation in pimples. The size and color of the spot varies depending on how bad the pimple was--if it was large and infected, a darker spot can develop. People with darker skin and those who tan with ease develop hyperpigmented spots from acne more readily than fair-skinned people.
Sometimes there's nothing you can do to prevent these hyperpigmented spots from developing in place of your pimples. But you can take several steps to minimize them. Treat any pimples as soon as they appear so that they don't become badly infected, and implement a solid skin care regimen to prevent new pimples from forming. Above all, don't pick at your pimples, since this encourages hyperpigmented spots to develop.
Once you've got hyperpigmented spots from your acne, you have several options to make them fade faster. First and foremost, avoid sun exposure, since that can make the hyperpigmentation worse and take longer to fade. Over-the-counter products that include hydroquinone, which is a skin bleach, also can help you fade the hyperpigmented spots, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
If over-the-counter hydroquinone helps some but not enough to fade the hyperpigmented spots, you might consider visiting a dermatologist for a stronger prescription hydroquinone product. Dermatologists can prescribe 4 percent hydroquinone creams, which can quickly fade spots but also can fade skin if not used according to directions. Prescription creams that include hydroquinone plus the ingredients tretinoin and corticosteroids might help fade your hyperpigmented acne spots as well, the American Academy of Dermatology says.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can take up to two years to fade completely. Even with treatment, your hyperpigmented spots may take six to 12 months to fade. If you still have acne, you need to be especially careful in treating your pimples, because additional skin irritation--common with acne treatments--potentially can lead to more hyperpigmented spots. Ask your dermatologist for the best approach to take.
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