Ask A Dermatologist: Cheek Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Cheek Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Dear Doctor

Excuse me, I wanted to know how do I get rid of this stain or mark removed from my cheek, what process do I have to take in order for it to be removed?

Cheek Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Dear Patient

Cheek Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation Treatment

The at home treatment for cheek post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) includes:

1. SPF 30 Sunscreen

Broad spectrum sunscreens that offer protection from UVA and UVB rays and that have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above should be used every day. Sunscreens prevent the tanning of the hyperpigmented patches since this increases their fading time.


2. Skin Brighteners

Skin brighteners or skin lighteners can be used but only if sunlight is avoided and suncreens are used religiously. Examples of skin brighteners include:

1. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a natural antioxidant which reduces melanin production by the skin and gives it a radiant effect. It is found in products like Olay Total Effects tone correcting night moisturizer and Neutrogena dark spot corrector.

2. Vitamin B3 or niacinamide is another skin brightener used to reduce hyperpigmentation. It interrupts abnormal pigment formation by reducing the transfer or melanosomes to the skin cells. It is found in products like Olay Total Effects tone correcting night moisturizer.

3. Licorice extract in a skin brightening agent which also has anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in the Dark Spot Corrector Kit.


3. Retinols

Retinols are also used and they are found in products like the Dark Spot Corrector Kit and Neutrogena dark spot corrector.


4. Mild Chemical Peels

Mild or superficial chemical peels like glycolic acid can be used to manage hyperpigmentation. These peels can be repeated every few weeks. Glycolic acid is a naturally occurring alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) which loosens the glue that holds dead cells on the surface of the skin together. 30% Glycolic acid peels can be bought over the counter. The effects may not be visible until after a few months.


5. Skin Bleaches like Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone reduces melanin formation by interfering with the activity of the enzyme known as tyrosinase. Hydroquinone is available over the counter at concentrations of 1% and 2%. An example of a non-prescription product is Ambi Fade Cream which contains 2% hydroquinone.

Skin bleaches like hydroquinone should only be used if the skin is not inflamed, if direct sunlight is avoided and sunscreens are applied daily on top of it. Hydroquinone can irritate sensitive skin and cause ochronosis which is unusual bluish-black darkening of the skin. It is also thought to cause cancer.


6. Camouflage Therapy

Camouflage cosmetics can also be used to cover up post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Cover-up makeup usually comes as sets which include concealing creams and setting powder. The Smart Cover-up Starter Kit and the Dermablend Cover Cream are two good examples.

Before use the skin should be cleaned with soap and water. The concealing cream foundation should then be applied to the dark patches. This cream foundation should be 1 or 2 shades lighter than the surrounding skin. Finally the area should be dusted with the loose powder.

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