The PIH Showdown: Getting Rid of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

UPDATE 03-22-18: Challenge Suspended

I had to suspend this showdown until my symptoms clear up. Click the link above to find out more


Recently my medications that I take to treat my PCOS were severely delayed by nearly two months due to troubles with my physician changing practices, my mail order pharmacy changing servicing companies, and Walgreens for being genuinely terrible with customer service and their mail order arm of the company. By the time I got what I needed the symptoms of PCOS were in full swing especially all over my face. Now I’m dealing with the aftermath of a hormonal breakout which for me and my melanin rich skin means post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) . After the pimples and irritation are gone they leave behind overly pigmented spots. The spots develop as an overreaction to inflammation causing the melanocytes (the cells that produce the pigment in your skin) to go hyperactive. The marks will fade on their own after a time and even in the last two weeks have done so quite considerably without much intervention from me. I’ll be grateful for the fact this happened during the winter when I get less exposure to the sun. Still, I’d like to speed up this process and will chronicle my results here on the blog.

Week 1

 
 

No make up or fancy lighting so that you can see exactly what I'm working with.

The best way to treat PIH is to prevent it from happening in the first place but as you can see that’s not always possible. However, treating discoloration like this in the skin is best done when what causes the inflammation is under control. Since my breakout has subsided I can go about fading the marks. I still have some congestion where the flare ups was at its worst but treating the PIH will also help this. What’s typically recommended by dermatologists to comat PIH is gentle exfoliation, a gentle lightening agent, and sun protection and that’s the approach I will take because it definitely works.

 

The Arsenal

Exfoliators

I’ll be exfoliating on two fronts: physical and chemical. The St. Ives Apricot Scrub Blemish Control Scrub has salicylic acid which helps with cell turnover plus walnut powder that helps physically buff the surface. The Glycolix 20% Glycolic Acid Wipes chemical exfoliant that helps cell turnover and increases collagen. This will help even not only the tone but help smooth the texture by loosening up clogged pores. 
Use: Once a week. Scrub then followed up with pads. Exfoliating any more often than that will cause more harm than good.

Lighteners

The Juara Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask has turmeric in which gives skin an instant brightening boost as well as helps even tone over time. The Dermactin-TS Brightening Sheet Masks and The Eva Naturals 5% Niacinamide Serum both contain niacinamide which is known to help even skin tone over time as well as reduce the likelihood of PIH from coming back. Niacinamide also has the added benefit of being a blemish fighter and collagen booster which helps even texture and increases plumpness. (I'll also use my The Face Shop brightening masks when I run out of Dermactin-TS ones
Use: the serum daily, the sheet mask 2x a week, and Juara before social events

Sun Protection

Of course I need to protect my skin and this Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Suncsreen SPF 30 sunscreen from Neutrogena will do the trick. I don't wear sun protection daily anymore as I need the exposure due to a Vitamin D deficiency, but do carry it with me in the event I find myself exposed for prolonged periods. This will become more essential as the days get longer.
Use: As needed.


I’ll be checking in at the 2 week, 4 week, 6 week, and 8 week marks and updating with photos so you can be with me as I track my progress. I've had success before with this regimen and felt it would be good to share. Some of the products are pricey, but remember it's not the exact product that matters but what kinds of ingredients, how much of them, and how they are used in the formula that matter most. I picked these because they are what I already have on hand but I'd love to know about the products you like! Leave them down below in comments so we can all learn from each other.

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