Hyperpigmentation Acne: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Hyperpigmentation acne scars usually look like a flat area of discoloration on the skin. It can range in color from white, pink, red, purple, brown, or black, depending on your skin tone and the depth of the discoloration.

Causes | Treatment | Consult a Doctor | Summary

Hyperpigmentation Acne occurs when a dark spot appears in the absence of a pimple. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is the term used to describe the dark marks or scars that remain after a pimple has healed. PIH is a discoloration of the skin that occurs in the aftermath of an inflammatory wound.

Although PIH can affect people of all skin types, it is more severe and long-lasting in people with medium to dark complexions. People having darker skin tones are trends to develop hyperpigmented acne scars. Dark spots develop when the skin cells produce an excessive amount of melanin. 

Males and females are equally affected by PIH.

Keep reading to learn more about hyperpigmentation acne’s causes and how individuals can treat and prevent it.

Disclosure: This post, is intended for informational purposes only. It does not provide medical advice. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, We may earn a small commission when you buy through links on our site.

What is Hyperpigmentation Acne Scars?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), the dark marks or spots that remain after a pimple heals, can be just as aggravating and distressing as pimples themselves.

  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation typically presents as a flat area of skin discoloration.
  • It can be white, pink, red, purple, brown, or black, depending on your skin tone and the degree of discoloration.
  • PIH is a discoloration of the skin that occurs in the aftermath of an inflammatory wound. It is the skin’s natural defense mechanism against inflammation.
  • Although PIH can affect people of all skin types, it is more severe and long-lasting in people with medium to dark complexions.

While hyperpigmentation acne may fade over time, it may be permanent if the original spots were deep. Although specific topical and surgical treatments can hasten the process of fading, it can take several months to years.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation Acne

  • PIH occurs when the skin becomes inflamed due to a wound or irritation, such as a scrape, rash, or pimple. As the skin heals, it produces an excessive amount of melanin.
  • Melanin is the pigmented protein found in the skin that gives it its color. The excess melanin in the skin is what darkens and discolors it.
  • Even after the wound has completely healed, this discoloration persists.
  • PIH typically manifests as macules or patches distributed in the same manner as the initial inflammatory process. The coloration of the excess pigment is determined by its location within the skin’s layers.
  • Epidermal hyper melanosis manifests as tan, brown, or dark brown skin and can last months to years without treatment.
  • Even relatively minor pimples and blemishes can result in hyperpigmentation.

PIH can also be caused by sunburn, chemical peels, dermabrasion, or laser resurfacing. [1]

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Treatment of Hyperpigmentation Acne

Dermatologists’ first recommendation to patients with hyperpigmentation acne is to ascertain the cause. If acne is causing dark spots, individuals must manage their acne to avoid the formation of hyperpigmentation spots after pimples have healed.

  • Dermatologists also advise patients to seek treatment for hyperpigmentation acne as soon as possible. Early treatment can expedite the fading process.
  • Individuals who use treatments for acne with hyperpigmentation should be aware that fading can take time.
  • Certain spots may fade on their own without treatment, but this may take six to twelve months.
  • Hyperpigmentation acne that occurs deep in the skin’s dermis can be more challenging to treat and may even be permanent.

Individuals should consult a dermatologist before selecting a skin-lightening product for a thorough examination of the skin.

Does Hyperpigmentation Acne fad away?

The good news is that PIH can resolve on its own over time, even in the absence of treatment. However, the critical word here is time.

  • It typically takes between three and twenty-four months for PIH to fade completely, though it may take longer in some cases.
  • The time required for PIH to fade depends on the shade of the spot compared to the surrounding skin.
  • The greater the contrast between the macule and your natural skin tone, the longer it will take for the macule to fade completely.
  • PIH is not always self-resolving. In some instances, the condition is more or less permanent.

There are treatments available that can assist. While some will not wholly eliminate dark marks, they will significantly lighten them. If you’re not diligent, therapy can also help accelerate the fading process.

Hyperpigmentation Acne Scar : 10 Effective Home Remedies

How do you get rid of acne hyperpigmentation?


The use of sun lotions and creams (Photoprotection), is a critical practice that everyone should follow.

Individuals who suffer from Hyperpigmentation Acne may notice that their spots become more noticeable following sun exposure.

Dermatologists advise people who suffer from acne with hyperpigmentation to avoid excessive sun exposure.

Individuals should protect themselves from the sun by wearing sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and protective clothing.

They should carry out these procedures regardless of whether it is raining, snowing, or overcast outside.


Zinamax contains lactoferrin, which has been demonstrated to be beneficial in treating acne-related inflammation. It is a multifunctional protein that possesses exceptional antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic effects. [2]

Additional methods of treatment

  • Dermatologists may recommend surgical or nonsurgical treatments depending on the severity of hyperpigmentation acne and the response to topical treatments.
  • Chemical peels are the most commonly performed non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the United States, with the most common indication being hyperpigmentation.
  • Additionally, laser and light-based therapies may be used to treat acne hyperpigmentation.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha hydroxy acids, particularly glycolic acid, are an excellent first line of defense against acne. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) accelerate the natural exfoliation process of the skin, which may help improve the appearance of PIH. [3]

  • These ingredients are found in a variety of over-the-counter “whitening” products. Lotions, creams, and gels will produce better results.
  • N-acetyl glucosamine, niacinamide, and vitamins A and C are additional OTC ingredients that may help fade hyperpigmentation.
  • A prescription is required for more vital AHA treatments. AHAs are also frequently used as anti-aging treatments, leaving your skin soft and smooth.

Zinamax is a lifesaver for everyone who suffers from skin defects such as pimples, blackheads, and irritation. Zinamax modulates the activity of the sebaceous glands, which is the core cause of acne.


Hydroquinone is a medication that is frequently used to treat PIH. It is available over the counter in concentrations of 1% to 2% and as a prescription cream in 3% to 4% concentrations. [4]

Creams like Hydroquinone are frequently formulated with additional lightening agents such as kojic acid, glycolic acid, tretinoin, other retinoids, or vitamin C. These combination creams may provide you with more effective results than hydroquinone alone.

Hydroquinone lightens the skin by preventing the enzyme that produces melanin.

Hydroquinone creams should be applied with caution to darkened areas only to avoid unintended skin lightening. Hydroquinone may cause skin irritation in some individuals, so always consult your dermatologist first.

Topical Retinoids

Acne is frequently treated with topical retinoids. Retinoids aid in acne clearing by increasing cell turnover rates. This rapid exfoliation may also aid in the fading of PIH.

Retin-A (tretinoin) and Retin-A Micro are retinoid creams. Tazorac (tazarotene) and Differin are also retinoid creams (adapalene). Additionally, they help to reduce post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation while treating acne breakouts.

Azelaic Acid

Some studies have shown that Azelaic acid has been as effective as hydroquinone in the treatment of hyperpigmentation acne. It’s an excellent substitute for those who are unable to use hydroquinone. [5]

Another medication used to treat acne and PIH is azelaic acid. It works by reducing inflammation and increasing the rate of cell turnover. Occasionally, azelaic acid is combined with glycolic acid or tretinoin.

Your physician can assist you in determining which of these treatments, if any, would be the most beneficial for you.

Does Vitamin C help with hyperpigmentation acne?

A good example of an antioxidant is Vitamin C. It has anti-aging properties when applied to the skin. Your skin tone is evened out by reducing hyperpigmentation as well as by preventing UV damage. [6]

When to see a doctor

Hyperpigmentation acne is not harmful. However, some individuals seek medical treatment for hyperpigmentation acne solely for cosmetic purposes.

While hyperpigmentation acne has no effect on a person’s physical health, it may have psychosocial consequences for those who dislike its appearance.


  • After pimples have healed, Hyperpigmentation Acne appears as dark spots on the skin.
  • While dark spots are more common in people with darker skin, they can appear on any skin.
  • Although acne with hyperpigmentation is not harmful, it can have significant psychosocial consequences.
  • Individuals may seek treatment for acne hyperpigmentation for cosmetic reasons.
  • Dermatologists can assist in determining the severity of the dark spots and recommending the most effective treatment.
  • While some dark spots may fade on their own, fading takes time, maybe months or even years for the spots to fade.

Disclaimer: This post does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with your dermatologist or your primary care physician before applying any of the methods described here.

Eliza Miller

Hi! I am Eliza Miller, a nutritionist turned holistic health content writer who specializes in health and wellness, mental health, and nutrition. Other than content writing I am very passionate about reading fictional books.