Background: Treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in patients of Fitzpatrick skin types IV, V, and VI is difficult. Glycolic acid peels are useful for pigment dyschromias in caucasians; however, there are no controlled studies examining their safety and efficacy in dark-complexioned individuals.
Objective: To determine if serial glycolic acid peels provide additional improvement when compared with a topical regimen of hydroquinone and tretinoin.
Methods: Nineteen patients with Fitzpatrick skin type IV, V, or VI were randomized to a control or peel group. The control group applied 2% hydroquinone/10% glycolic acid gel twice daily and 0.05% tretinoin cream at night. The peel patients used the same topical regimen and, in addition, received six serial glycolic acid peels (68% maximum concentration). Patients were evaluated with photography, colorimetry, and subjectively.
Results: Sixteen patients completed the study. Both treatment groups demonstrated improvement, but the patients receiving the glycolic acid peels showed a trend toward more rapid and greater improvement. The peel group also experienced increased lightening of the normal skin.
Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates that serial glycolic acid peels provide an additional benefit, with minimal adverse effects, for the treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in dark-complexioned individuals.