Dermatologists classify skin color on a scale of 1 to 6, called the Fitzpatrick classification. Light skinned people, such a person whose ancestors are from Northern Europe, are classified as a 1. The darkest skin, such as a person whose family originated from Southern India, is classified a 6. Interestingly, all humans have the same number of melanocytes or pigment cells regardless of their skin color type. Skin color is determined by how much melanin the pigment cells produce and the amount of melanin pigment that is packed into storage site in melanoctes called melanosomes. People with darker skin types such as 3 through 6 often develop localized increased pigment or darkening of the skin color after the skin is inflamed. This occurs after surgery, a slip and fall or cosmetic procedure such as chemical peel or micro-needling. Physicians call this post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. While this pigmentation fades over time, lightening is gradual, occurring over months to years. Post inflammatory pigmentation can be quite cosmetically disfiguring with psychosocial implications.
Often the underlying inflammation such as insect bites, rashes or even acne clears and then the pigmentation becomes evident. The pigmentation sometimes takes the shape of the original trauma. Sunlight exacerbates and prolongs the darkened skin.
Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation can be minimized, if not totally prevented.
1) Treat skin wounds with Oreganknow healing ointment. Whether acquired through cosmetic procedures such as laser or chemical peels, surgical procedures such as skin excisions or wounds secondary to accidents, OreganKnow healing ointment can prevent and treat post-inflammatory pigmentation. The water-soluble oregano extract in this ointment has compounds called phenolics, the most prominent being Rosmarinic acid. These chemicals block the enzyme that causes injury induced pigmentation.
Other lightening agents include topical vitamin C and other creams that contain licorice extracts, soy and niacinamide.
Hydroquinone is an over the counter skin lightener or bleaching creams, also available in higher percentages as a prescription. About a decade ago this ingredient was banned in Japan, through out Europe, and Australia as it is considered a potential carcinogen.
2) Sunscreens that block both ultraviolet and visible light especially blue light are essential to prevent and treat post inflammation pigmentation. Recently, scientists discovered that darker skin is darkened more by visible light, especially blue light, than invisible ultraviolet rays. Also, blue light induced pigmentation lasts longer than that caused by ultraviolet light. Sunscreen should be broad spectrum blocking ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A, but should also be tinted to block visible light. A few examples of
tinted sun blockers, protecting against ultraviolet rays and blue light are, Anthelios 50 Ultra-Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30, and Algenist Repairing Tint & Radiance Moisturizer SPF 30.
Finally, while lasers are often touted to treat post inflammatory hyper- pigmentation they can often cause permanent decreased pigmentation especially in those with darker skin types. Results are variable and often unsatisfactory.