Beauty and skincare: Top tips to fade away post-acne spots
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation appears as an area of darker-coloured skin as compared to the surrounding skin because of excessive melanin production in that area. Darker pigmentation needs treatment. Here are easy tips to help you deal with post-acne dark spots
Acne can heal with hyperpigmentation, erythema and/or with scars and whenever there is any area of hyperpigmentation left behind after a pimple or any wound, it is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). PIH appears as an area of darker-coloured skin as compared to the surrounding skin because of excessive melanin production in that area.
People with darker skin color are at a higher risk because of more melanin content. Subtle PIH settles on its own over a period of time while darker pigmentation needs treatment. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Neha Dubey, Consultant Medical and Cosmetic Dermatologist, Medical Director at Meraki Skin Clinic in Gurugram, suggested four tips to help you deal with post-acne dark spots -
1. Treat your acne actively: Since acne is causing those nasty marks on your skin, step one always has to be the proper treatment of acne so that you can end the vicious cycle of getting acne – popping it- dealing with fresh marks every time.
2. Use sunscreen: Melanin production increases under the effect of UV radiation, so use a gel-based sunscreen regularly suited for skin that is acne prone to prevent PIH from settling in.
3. Formulations to be used:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) - AHAs like Glycolic acid speeds up exfoliation and helps in clearing away dark spots. Nowadays these are readily available in OTC products, but prescription strength formulation prescribed by a Dermatologist works best for stubborn PIH. Vitamin C & niacinamide can also be used.
- Hydroquinone - It works by blocking the enzyme responsible for melanin production. Hydroquinone has been in use since a very long time & is quite effective in dealing with pigmentation disorders but should be used under supervision. Its efficacy is increased when used in combination with other lightening agents like glycolic acid, kojic acid, retinoids and Vitamin C.
- Azelaic acid - It works by reducing inflammation and increasing cell turnover rates. It also works well in reddish marks left behind by acne.
- Topical Retinoids - They are not only effective in treating active acne but also PIH. Topical retinoids work by speeding up cell turnover rates. Since dryness is one of the major side effects, one needs to practise caution while using them.
4. Treat your deficiencies: If your body is deficient in certain vitamins like B12 or D3 or suffering from autoimmune disorders like hypo or hyperthyroidism, its capacity to heal is slowed down. So, if you are dealing with resistant post-acne pigmentation and nothing seems to work, get yourself tested and see if you need any supplements.
Dr Manasi Shirolikar, Consultant Dermatologist and Founder of drmanasiskin.com, advised:
1. Exfoliate - Use exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and mandelic acid to dissolve the upper layers of your skin and reveal the skin underneath which is brighter and has reduced pigmentation. It is recommended to exfoliate one to two times a week, preferably at night. Remember to follow it up with a moisturiser to prevent harrier impairment. AHAs used in exfoliation can also boost collagen synthesis thereby aiding in acne scars as well!
2. Azelaic Acid - Look for products containing azelaic acid. Azelaic acid is a powerful and often overlooked ingredient that not only helps to decrease pigmentation but also fights acne to prevent future breakouts!
3. SPF - People with acne may be hesitant to apply sunscreen - but actually sun exposure can worsen discolouration. So using sunscreen is a must! You can go for oil-free sunscreens to reduce the chances of breakouts. Protip - opt for a tinted sunscreen to hide the marks.
4. Brightening ingredients - Ingredients such as Arbutin, vitamin C and tranexamic acid help to reduce the melanin content of the skin and work to provide a more even tone.