What is Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation?

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Developed through inflamed wounds, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is usually tan, brown or black in colour. It is a condition in which there is an increased production of colour pigment due to an injury or inflammation to the skin.

It is worth noting that the usage of unsuitable cosmetic procedures for your skin type (such as chemical peels, laser treatments, IPL or a combination therapy) may aggravate your skin condition instead, leading to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is one of the most common pigmentation problems that occur in people with a darker skin tone. When a deeper skin layer is involved, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be difficult to treat.

Where does it appear?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs to wounds on the face. These wounds may develop from razor cuts from shaving, burns or even infected pimples from squeezing.


  • Skin inflammation or injury: As the skin tissue heals, chemicals called cytokines that help in the creation of new skin is produced. However, these chemicals can also stimulate the melanocytes, causing more melanin to be produced. When melanin is produced excessively, this results in skin discolouration on the wounded area. In addition, exposure to sunlight can cause the affected areas to become even darker than the surrounding skin.

Types of hyperpigmentation

  • Epidermal (surface layer): Tends to be tan, brown, or dark brown in colour and it may take months to years to get rid of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation without treatment

  • Dermis (inner layer of skin): Tends to be bluish-grey in colour and may be permanent if it is left untreated

How to get rid of hyperpigmentation?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation treatments available in Singapore include:

  • Chemical peels: Peels work by exfoliating the upper most layer of the skin, along with the dark patches, thus speeding up the skin lightening process. Common chemicals used include glycolic acid and salicylic acid. As it is a rather intensive treatment, one may experience skin redness over the next few days. Other side effects include skin irritation, blistering, or even skin discolouration.

  • Microdermabrasion: Similar to chemical peels, microdermabrasion treats hyperpigmentation problems by exfoliating the upper most layer of the skin. However, rather than chemicals, fine crystals are used to gently lift the dead skin cells while a suction is used to remove them, hence making this is a gentler alternative. Nevertheless, as with most hyperpigmentation treatments, one may experience skin irritation, skin redness, skin discolouration and/or swelling.

  • Topical: Over the counter creams (such as Vitamin C cream and retinoid) are less intensive treatments which would work better in the removal of epidermal hyperpigmentation. However, as the products are not customised based on individual’s skin needs, one may experience side effects such as increased skin sensitivity and skin dryness. Besides that, as over the counter products carry milder formula, it would take a longer time to visibly lighten the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

  • Facial: To lighten hyperpigmentation, facial treatments are typically customised according to the severity of the hyperpigmentation problem, while taking into consideration the individual’s skin type. This greater degree of control over the treatment course reduces the potential side effects of the hyperpigmentation treatment. For more information on how it works, click here.

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