Glycolic acid peels for postinflammatory hyperpigmentation in black patients. A comparative study

Dermatol Surg. 1997 Mar;23(3):171-4; discussion 175. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.1997.tb00014.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Black People*
  • Chemexfoliation*
  • Dermatitis / complications*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Glycolates / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / administration & dosage
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology
  • Hyperpigmentation / therapy*
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Tretinoin / administration & dosage


  • Drug Combinations
  • Glycolates
  • Hydroquinones
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • glycolic acid
  • Tretinoin
  • hydroquinone