Brown spots after acne breakouts – what is causing these and how to treat?
I do have some ideas! Acne is frustrating, and lingering brown spots can make one feel just as self conscious. You likely have post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). There are a few things you can do about brown spots after acne.
Treating and avoiding Hyperpigmentation, or Brown Spots After Acne
- Protect skin from sun: Depending on where you live, brown spots after acne are worse in the spring/summer due to the increase in UVA/UVB. A high zinc, acne friendly sunscreen really helps, as does a hat whenever outdoors;
- Prevent and treat acne actively: The pigment you’re experiencing is called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH which just means that the inflammation of the acne activates pigment temporarily (months);
- Layer your protection: Use a sunscreen like above, and oil free makeup with SPF and a mineral powder over that – just make sure it’s not making your acne worse;
- Treat the spots (cautiously): Buy the over-the-counter 2% hydroquinone “bleaching creams” and apply with a Q-tip just to the spots. Remember some people get worse with hydroquinones so test a small spot first, and watch for that before treating all over. Stop the product, if you think it is worsening the pigmentation;
- Try an antioxidant skincare product: Remember other things fight pigment also like a good antioxidant under your sunscreen. Try a try a 3-in-one product or a less expensive 10-20% vitamin C serum.
Here’s a more complete pigment treatment regimen to consider as well.
Hope this helps, Dr. I