Updated: Jun 30
Have you ever wondered what the darkened and discoloration on or around you HS areas is? Well, wonder no more. Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation is very common with many inflammatory skin conditions, especially with HS. This occurs following skin injury or inflammation, when skin is left darkened and discolored after the wound has healed. With HS and reoccurring abscesses, this can be an ongoing process.
Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation (also known as PIH and hyper-pigmentation caused by inflammation) is a type of hyper-pigmentation that can affect any part of the body and usually appears as flat spots of discoloration. These range in color from pink, purple, red, brown or black, depending on skin tone and the depth of the discoloration. Men and women are equally susceptible, and all skin types are equally susceptible as well.
PIH often affects people with acne and can sometimes be triggered by skin treatments such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, laser therapy, an injury, abscesses, rash, or anything that causes skin to become inflamed. This inflammation triggers melanocytes, the melanin producing cells, to release excessive melanosomes (pigment granules). The excessive pigment granules darken and discolor the wounded area which can remain long after the wound has healed.
The main cause of PIH is increased melanin production. Melanin is the pigment that defines the color of skin and the increase in melanin is triggered by the way skin heals after inflammation or injury. The more inflammation there is, the more discoloration there will be, both in size and color. In cases where PIH is caused by HS, picking can worsen the condition.
While the sun is not the cause of PIH, it can aggravate symptoms, darkening the affected patches and prolonging the time it can take for them to fade. The sun is closely associated with other forms of hyper-pigmentation such as age spots and melasma.
Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation is harmless, but melanoma can be life-threatening. If you have any concerns about your pigment spots – if they change shape, size and color or if they become itchy and start to bleed – it’s important that you consult a doctor.
What can I do to prevent PIH?
Doing what you can to control your HS reduces the chances of post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation
Avoid treatments such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser therapy
If you're getting laser treatments find out the best way to care for your skin after treatments
Sun protection helps prevent or reduce the severity of post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation
Limit the time you spend in the sun
Keep out of the sun during the most intense hours
Wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and sunhats
This is an awareness article for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.
Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen
Edited by Brindley Kons