Pigmentation Treatments

Pigmentation Treatments

Some people develop dark marks – brown or red stains without skin indentation or holes – after acne spots have healed. This is known as macular hyperpigmentation (MH). These spots are not acne scars.
This long-lasting condition can be treated more easily and effectively than true scarring.

Medical Treatment:

If acne is still active, your dermatologist or family doctor can help direct you to more intensive treatments to reduce the inflammation more quickly. This may require prescription topical medications (those containing azelaic acid and retinoids are helpful in both acne and MH), or pills such as antibiotics, hormones, or oral isotretinoin.

Non-medical treatment:

Dermocosmetic ingredients to reduce MH also include vitamin C, niacinamide, kojic acid, hydroquinone (low concentration, 2%, and not to be used continuously for more than 6 mths), tranexamic acid, alpha and beta hydroxyacids, bakuchiol, arbutin. Newer ingredients may soon be available.


Procedural therapies may also help: acne facials and chemical peels, intense pulse light, and lasers including fractional non-ablative.

About the author:

Dr. Jerry Tan is an adjunct professor at the University of Western Ontario and in private practice in Windsor, Ontario. He is the principal investigator at a clinical research site, Windsor Clinical Research Inc. His career has focused on clinical care, research and cosmetic dermatology.


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