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Post Inflammatory Erythema

Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE): Top 5 effective treatments to consider!

When it comes to figuring out the best solution for your skin concerns, one of the very first steps should be identifying the type of scars you are dealing with. Post Inflammatory Erythema or PIE is the residual pink, red, or purple marks left behind by acne breakouts. Once pimples have smoothed out and healed, the battle with acne isn't always over. Acne breakouts frequently leave marks on the skin when they heal.

PIE is more common in lighter skin tones, when the capillaries beneath your skin burst; a surge in blood flow is triggered to mend the vascular wound, resulting in these stubborn blemishes. In this article, we will explore more about PIE, as well as topical and medical treatments to help you get rid of it.


What is Post Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)?

Post Inflammatory Erythema

Before we begin, it's crucial to note that the phrase "post-inflammatory erythema" is a very new term. Previously, the red marks left by an injury were called "macula." In dermatology, this term describes areas of redness that do not rise above skin level.

Let's take a look at the name: "Post" means "after," "inflammatory" means "caused by inflammation," and "erythema" means "redness,". So, it's a red, pink, or purple area on the skin left behind from an inflammatory process.

When acne is in the healing process, the PIE condition arises. Healing typically takes place in three phases: inflammation, formation of tissues, and reorganization of the matrix.

In simple terms, the blood flow stops during the inflammation stage when the small blood vessels under the lesion get damaged or ruptured. If left untreated, it can also leave ugly scars.

What causes PIE?

Acne lesions, especially those on the face, are frequently inflamed. You may wish to get rid of them as soon as possible. As a result, you resort to squeezing pimples, which can worsen blood vessel damage and result in blotches on your face. Additionally, if you can't keep your hands off your face, scarring might result.

Your skin is usually thinner as it heals and this may worsen erythema. Those superficial red, pink, or purple blotches that characterize PIE are triggered by dilation, inflammation, or impairment to small capillaries that reside under the skin. Cystic acne is also a common PIE cause. However, any inflammatory skin condition, like dermatitis and sunburn, can be at fault.

Dry skin, hormonal fluctuations, excess dead skin, chemical burns, over-exfoliation, cuts, and scratches can also trigger PIE.

Topical Treatments

Although PIE normally goes away on its own, there are a wide array of topical treatments that can help speed things up. Here is everything you need to know about it!

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C

The most prevalent antioxidant in human skin is vitamin C. It is necessary for collagen formation, as well as the reduction of pigmentation and the neutralization of oxidative stress produced by environmental variables (such as UV radiation, pollution, and smoking).

According to studies, topical use of vitamin C can aid to diminish UVB-induced erythema. This amazing skin ingredient is also beneficial to combat hyperpigmentation, poor complexion, and premature ageing of the skin.

Your skin can benefit from vitamin C serum. It strengthens your capillary walls and is indeed a one-stop solution for treating PIE. Because of its lower molecular weight, it can permeate deeper layers of the skin, resulting in faster results.

2. Niacinamide


With the added benefits of keeping your skin hydrated while controlling oil and warding off pesky acne flare-ups, this water-soluble form of Vitamin B3 helps prevent PIE. According to some studies, niacinamide (nicotinamide) can raise the levels of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol in the stratum corneum. This can help to stabilize the skin's barrier function and decrease water loss.

The anti-inflammatory effects of niacinamide facilitate skin barrier repair and recovery while soothing redness. Simultaneously, it works to reduce acne spots by lightening them and clearing the pores off bacteria with its antimicrobial effects. It comes in a variety of forms, including toners, serums, and even as an active ingredient in moisturizers.

3. Sunscreen


Wearing sunscreen every day has numerous benefits. Acne is caused by the sebaceous glands overproducing oil as a result of high temperatures.

Acne medications can make your skin more prone to sun damage. This is why sunscreen is required to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays, which not only cause acne but also aggravate existing acne.

According to dermatologists, wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen gives appropriate protection from UV rays and aids in the successful relief of PIE symptoms.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

If you've ever had sunburn, you've certainly heard of aloe vera, a plant extract that's often used to heal sensitive skin. Aloe Vera includes vitamins A, C, and E, saponins, and amino acids, and has hydrating, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research studies have shown that Aloe Vera aids in reducing acne-related facial redness and inflammation.

5. Moisturizers

To counterbalance the lack of moisture, dry skin causes excessive oil production in the sebaceous glands. The excess sebum blocks pores, resulting in severe acne and outbreaks. This is why specialists advise keeping the skin hydrated, whether it's oily or dry, to avoid acne and its after-effects (PIE).

Because acne-prone skin is so sensitive, it's always a good idea to invest in the correct moisturizer. If you are dealing with PIE, choose a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, free of mineral oils and parabens, and has oil-controlling characteristics.

If you are struggling with dry, acne-prone skin, search for moisturizers that contain components like:

Medical Treatments

You frequently still have to deal with the aftermath, which consists of pink, red, or purple spots that remain after the pimple has dried up and the flaky, oozy skin has healed. Usually, these annoying relics of former pimples will go away, but it may take weeks or months.

If you aren’t satisfied with topical treatments, you can also opt for various medical treatments. It's always good to consult a dermatologist to avoid any side effects later.

1. Laser Treatment

Dermatologists combat PIE using a variety of lasers, including pulsed dye lasers and intense pulsed light lasers. These function by penetrating the skin deep enough to reach, break down, and remove the damaged blood vessel regions beneath the skin that are causing PIE, thus reducing irritation and discoloration.

2. Microneedling

A derma-roller with small needles is used to create superficial, controlled skin injury in micro-needling. This stimulates the skin to create novel collagen-rich tissue, which eliminates red patches on the surface. To observe the results, you may need to have micro needling done several times.

Simple Tips to Prevent PIE


Always remember that prevention is better than cure. PIE is indeed a frustrating condition for many acne sufferers. But, there are a few basic steps you may follow to prevent post-inflammatory erythema following an acne infection.

  • Never pick, squeeze, or touch your pimples as this will aggravate them
  • Avoid harsh soaps and abrasive scrubs as they can strip your skin of its natural oils, elicit skin irritation, and exacerbate redness and PIE
  • Apply sunscreen daily
  • Follow a good skincare routine. Search for skincare ingredients/products that:
  • (A) Restore the barrier function of your skin
  • (B) Reduce inflammation
  • (C) Reduce the dilation of blood vessels
  • (D) Hydrate your skin
  • Evade using greasy, heavy moisturizers that can clog pores and worsen PIE

Take Away!

PIE isn't harmful to one's health, but it can linger for several months or even longer if left untreated. Always look for skincare products that have elements that help to relieve inflammation, build the skin barrier, and moisturize the skin. A medicated cleanser, toner, and moisturizer should all be part of your daily routine.

Thankfully, using topical medications in conjunction with preventative measures will help you quickly resolve post-acne erythema. Once you begin to opt for the right skincare ingredients, you will look more flawless. For most people, PIE subsides on its own, but dermatological treatments can help it clear up more quickly. For a more targeted skin care regimen, seek a dermatologist's assistance at the earliest!


Q. What causes post inflammatory erythema?

Ans. Post inflammatory erythema is the result of inflammation caused by trauma. This includes, but is not limited to — sun exposure, inflamed acne, excess of dead skin, hormonal fluctuations, dry or dehydrated skin, chemical burns, over-exfoliation, cuts, scratches, sunburn, picking, popping, or squeezing acne, and using harsh products.

Q. What's the difference between PIE and PIH?

Ans. Both Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) and Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE) can occur when an acne spot clears up. But, there is an immense difference between both skin conditions. In PIH, dark or brown spots appear on your face due to excessive production of melanin.

Contrarily, PIE triggers red, pink, or purple marks due to blood vessel damage underneath the skin. PIH affects people having darker skin tone while people with lighter skin tone are more prone to get PIE.

Q. How long does it take for post inflammatory erythema to fade?

Ans. Post inflammatory erythema can take up to six months to fade on its own. But, if you desire to resolve it more quickly, topical treatments such as Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Sunscreen, Aloe Vera, and Moisturizers may help. You can also opt for medical treatments like Laser treatment and microneedling.

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