Frequency and characteristics of acne-related post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

J Dermatol. 2016 Jul;43(7):826-8. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.13263. Epub 2016 Jan 27.


In patients with darker skin types (Fitzpatrick phototypes III-VI), acne is often accompanied by post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Further, acne-related pigmentation can pose a greater concern for the patient than the acne lesions. There has been little formal study of this acne-related PIH. Recently, the Asian Acne Board - an international group of dermatologists with interest in acne research - made a preliminary evaluation of the frequency and characteristics of PIH in seven Asian countries. A total of 324 sequential acne subjects were evaluated for the presence of PIH. The majority (80.2%) of subjects had mild to moderate acne and there were more females than males (63.0% vs 37.0%). In this population of patients consulting a dermatologist for acne, 58.2% (188/324) had PIH. The results also showed that pigmentation problems are often long lasting: at least 1 year for more than half of subjects and 5 years or longer in 22.3%. In accordance with our clinical experience, patients reported that PIH is quite bothersome, often as bothersome or more so than the acne itself and sometimes more problematic. Excoriation was commonly reported by patients, and may represent a modifiable risk factor that could potentially be improved by patient education.

Keywords: acne; epidemiology; pigmentation problems; post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / complications*
  • Acne Vulgaris / epidemiology
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / epidemiology
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies