Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation v. 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.