Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation vs. Melasma: What's the Difference?

What is Postin­flam­ma­to­ry Hyperpigmentation?

Postin­flam­ma­to­ry hyper­pig­men­ta­tion is tan or brown spots left on the skin after hav­ing inflam­ma­tion of the skin. For exam­ple, a brown spot left behind after an acne pim­ple, a rash, or an area of trau­ma such as a scratch or a burn.

What is Melasma?

Melas­ma is a very com­mon skin dis­or­der. Women are more like­ly than men to expe­ri­ence melas­ma and it tends to affect dark­er skin indi­vid­u­als more often. The exact cause of melas­ma is unknown, but we do know that sun expo­sure and fluc­tu­a­tion in female hor­mones trig­gers melas­ma. Melas­ma occurs fre­quent­ly dur­ing preg­nan­cy (it is referred to as the mask of preg­nan­cy”), with oral con­tra­cep­tive use, and hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py in menopausal women. Melas­ma is most com­mon on the face but can also appear in areas that get a large amount of sun expo­sure (neck, fore­arms). This con­di­tion is gen­er­al­ly worse in the sum­mer due to an increase in sun exposure.

How are postin­flam­ma­to­ry hyper­pig­men­ta­tion and melas­ma treated?

There are many dif­fer­ent options that we use in our office to treat postin­flam­ma­to­ry hyper­pig­men­ta­tion and melas­ma, but the most impor­tant treat­ment is sun­screen. Sun pro­tec­tion is very impor­tant to pre­vent fur­ther dark­en­ing of the area. A broad spec­trum sun­block with SPF 30 or high­er that is a com­plete phys­i­cal block­er is rec­om­mend­ed. Prod­ucts that we use to light­en the skin include hydro­quinone top­i­cals, non-hydro­quinone top­i­cals, laser and chem­i­cal peels.

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