Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: A comprehensive overview: Treatment options and prevention

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Oct;77(4):607-621. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.01.036.


Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs after various dermatoses, exogenous stimuli, and dermatologic procedures. The clinical course of PIH is chronic and unpredictable, although the probability of resolution of epidermal hyperpigmentation is better than those of dermal hyperpigmentation. PIH can be prevented or alleviated. When it does occur, the underlying inflammatory conditions should be sought and treated as the first step to reduce the progression of inflammation and PIH (which is an inflammatory consequence). If the inflammatory conditions subsides or there is no evidence of inflammation at the time of diagnosis, the treatments of PIH should be considered as the next step. Understanding the available treatment options helps the physician choose the appropriate treatment for each patient. Having a reproducible model for PIH is essential for the development of treatment modalities. The second article in this 2-part continuing medical education series on PIH specifically addresses the evidence that supports medical and procedural treatments of PIH and other forms of acquired hyperpigmentation. It also describes a PIH model and provides an algorithm for clinical practice along with discussion about the prevention of PIH.

Keywords: bleaching agent; botanical; chemical peeling; hydroquinone; hyperpigmentation; laser and light; melanin; photoprotection; sunscreen; trichloroacetic acid.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Chemexfoliation
  • Dermatitis / complications*
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / therapeutic use
  • Hyperpigmentation / prevention & control
  • Hyperpigmentation / therapy*
  • Laser Therapy
  • Skin Lightening Preparations / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Hydroquinones
  • Skin Lightening Preparations
  • hydroquinone