Hyperpigmentation is caused by the over production of melanin–the protein that produces your skin color–causing it to become darker. This can occur in patches due to disease, develop under your eyes thanks to genetics or simply happen due to excess sun exposure. But one of the most common hyper pigmentation problems that we can all relate to is hyperpgimentation from acne scars. This is called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and it’s a pain in the butt.
Essentially, your zit’s inflammation is like a wound and the body naturally responds by producing melanin. You’ve probably experienced it before: As your zit starts to become less gross and filled with pus, a dark spot is left in its wake. This can be so frustrating because as much as your skin is healing, there’s still an annoying little reminder of what was plaguing your skin.
Your risk of developing post inflammatory hyperpigmentation increases depends on a number of factors. More severe zits or breakouts are more prone to developing scars. Picking or popping your zit also increases this risk. Additionally, those with darker skin tones are more prone to developing hyper pigmentation.
Luckily, hyperpigmented acne scars are not true scars and can eventually heal, but it can take a long time. In fact, it can take three to 24 months to fully heal and return back to normal. I’m assuming that most of us aren’t interested in waiting two years for a dark spot to fade. So what can you do about it besides using some nifty cover up tricks?
There are a few treatment options in your arsenal. For mild hyperpigmentation, over the counter treatments may be your best bet. Dark spot removal creams containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids, kojic acid, and/or vitamins A and C help brighten the skin, so regularly applying it to your scar will help it fade faster. Retinoid creams such as Retin-A help heal acne by increasing cell turnover rates, which in turn helps speed up the fading process. Dermatological skin peels can also help treat darkened areas, as well as professional laser treatment. The only other thing you can do, really, is wait it out and keep up a good skin care regimen.
If you experience acne related hyperpigmentation, you should try to limit your sun exposure because it increases melanin production, which definitely won’t help your scars fade. Use a moisturizer with a high level of SPF or a noncomedogenic (non pore-clogging) sunscreen daily.
Hyperpigmentation after a breakout definitely sucks, but know that all hope is certainly not lost.
Do you experience hyperpigmentation after a breakout? What has worked to fade your acne scars? Tell us in the comments!