Darkening of a scar after sun exposure – what to do?

Dr. Irwin, I have a scar from over the counter chemicals I used to remove facial hair above my lip. I have fair skin with a yellow/olive undertone as I am half Italian. I was told that I have the type of skin that scars easily. I recently went on vacation in a very hot climate and got very tanned. Now the huge scar above my lip is very brown. What can I do about this? (It is very noticeable and embarrassing. Makeup is not working to cover it) Thanks.

You’re not alone on this.   A true scar is usually whiter than your baseline skin tone and will usually stay whiter.   If you’re having trouble with more color after a chemical burn, it’s often more a persistent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation problem (PIH).  Your dermatologist would be able to diagnose this and tell you which it is so please see her/him. 

As you all know, I’m don’t advocate for using hydroquinones long term.  However, in my opinion, they have a role in treating certain problems for 1-6 months using 2-4% (the currently FDA approved) concentrations.   There are various versions of this and the 4% in the U.S. must be by prescription. 

Remember that about 10% of people have the opposite effect (the skin darkens) and should stop it right away if that happens or the skin is irritated in any way. 

Link to more on hydroquinones

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin, and I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate. That’s why I write these skin care tips and guides.

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