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Little Known Ways to Treat Red Acne Scars or Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

Little Known Ways to Treat Red Acne Scars or Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)

Original Author: Fira Syafiqah

What is Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)?

Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE) or red acne scar is the reddish mark left behind on the skin that appear due to capillaries at the skin surface being damaged by acne inflammation and popping pimple activity by human. Those who have lighter skin tones will be more susceptible to get PIE while in majority cases, darker skin tones will get higher chance to be affected by Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH). Read our ENTRY HERE to read more on Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, also known as dark acne scars which are melanin-caused mark left on the skin. 

To detect PIE, simply press the redness area, the redness should go away and will look white (check now for confirmation!)

Image source:


 TypesPost Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
DefinitionRed to purple-looking vascular neogenesis that usually appears after skin’s inflammation has healedDark spots left after skin’s inflammation has done its healing process. It is part of skin’s natural reaction to inflamed skin.
FactorDilation of blood capillaries (tiny blood vessel) caused by inflammation during skin’s healingOverproduction of melanin caused by inflammation during skin’s healing
Common inLighter skin tones and Fitzpatrick skin type 1 to 3.Darker skin tone and Fitzpatrick skin type 4 to 5.
How it looks likeCan be in shades of pink, red or purpleCan be in shades of brown to black spots

Prevention is Better than Cure

If you’re currently do not experience PIE, it is best for you to take note on these tips below so that you can always always avoid getting PIE on your face! It takes only a few days for acne to soothe but PIE can take a long period of time to heal, just like PIH. However, this depends on your personal skin healing response and other environmental condition may affect too.

Follow skincare routine that prevents acne formation. Read our ENTRY HERE for more info.Don’t pick your pimples or acne as this will lead to inflammation and increase PIE chance to appear on your skin.

Search for anti-inflammatory, skin barrier repair, collagen booster (like retinoid and Vitamin C!) and humectants in your skincare product to aid in skin’s natural recovery process. 

Try our Repairing and Soothing Facial Serum (RSS). It contains all of those needed ingredients for your skin to recover itself! Niacinamide, Centella Asiatica and Hyaluronic Acid, to name a few…

Do not use physical scrub, treatment, peels, facial brush as they will make your skin more prone to getting irritation and eventually causes broken capillaries. 
Wear sunscreen in your AM routine! Reapply every 2 to 3 hours. When exposed to the sun, the sun will slow down the skin barrier repair process and may lead to further skin damage to the inflamed skin. Don’t delay on seeking for help and treatment from dermatologists for early sign of acne and blemishes if possible.
Make sure you are changing your pillowcase and cleaning your phone devices once a week. Avoid touching your face if you are prone to acne and breakout. Reducing acne will reduce chance of getting PIE!

Unlike PIH which can be treated with skin lightening agent or brightening ingredients that address melanin, PIE is far more difficult to treat in real life. These ingredients will have limited effects on the redness as they work more on melanin-caused mark by inhibiting melanin production or preventing melanosome transfer rather than vasculat-related redness. 

"What should I do if I already Have PIE?"

Image source: Dermacare

Some anti-inflammatory ingredients will really help to reduce redness for rapid skin healing process. Some notable ingredients include Niacinamide, Witch Hazel, Allantoin, Green Tea, Centella Asiatica extract and Panthenol. Collagen booster like ANTIOXIDANT (read HERE for more info) and retinoid help in stimulating more collagen to repair the skin barrier. Niacinamide, the famous skin barrier repairing ingredient aids in stimulating ceramide for enhanced skin barrier look. 

However, according to dermatologists, in-clinic lasers have been proven to show more effective ways for PIE treatment. They offer a speedy recovery even further but at the same time, supporting a good skincare routine. *Darker skin tones really need to consult dermatologist to avoid PIH comes after PIE treatment

Some clinical approaches to treat stubborn PIE includes laser treatment such as Vascular Laser. 


Vascular Lasers

Heat-based treatments that specifically target intravascular oxyhaemoglobin in dermal blood vessels.

Oxyhaemoglobin absorbs the laser light which is then converted to heat and transferred to blood vessel wall, eventually causing closure of blood vessel.

Z Hussains, 2016
Pulsed Dye laser (PDL) therapy

Selectively targets oxyhaemoglobin in blood vessel, removing damaged capillaries located near to the skin surface which causes the red acne scars to appear.

Longer wavelengths and extended pulse durations have enabled deeper tissue penetration for better outcome.

Potassium Titanyl Phosphate

Targets melanin, oxyhaemoglobin and red tattoo pigment. This treatment uses shorter wavelengths, causing decreased tissue penetration and limited absorption by haemoglobin in deeper vessels.

*more suitable for fair skin

Intensed Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)78% patients reported better PIE improvement.ML. Mathew et al, 2018
MicroneedlingThis can be really helpful for rejuvenation with the aid of other skincare products.N/A

Ingredients that help Recover from PIE

If you think the treatments do not fit your current budget and you are searching for affordable treatment to repair your skin barrier because of PIE, search for these ingredients within your skincare products!

Ingredients ClassExamples
Barrier Repair, Anti-Inflammatory
  • Niacinamide
  • Ceramide
  • Centella Asiatica extract
  • Licorice extract
  • Allantoin
  • Green Tea extract
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium PCA
  • Aloe vera
  •  Panthenol
  • Vitamin C and derivatives
  • Niacinamide
  • Green tea extract
Cell Turnover and Collagen Booster
  • Retinol (Vitamin A)*start usage at the age of 25
  • Physical or mineral sunscreen which is less irritating to the skin

Again, remember skincare products may take longer times to see the result compared to laser treatment. At least, you can soothe the redness rather than letting it sit on your skin for longer times. 

Good news is our Repairing and Soothing Facial Serum contains the ingredients for your skin to recover from PIE like Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide and Centella Asiatica extract.


Thank you for reading our ENTRY!


All credits go to FOUNDER OF SACHISKIN, Farah on her instagram @/beamwonder for these informative tips!

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