Background Acne vulgaris is a common condition that occurs in all skin types. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is often associated with acne in patients of darker skin types, making it a common complaint in dermatology offices. Despite this, there is limited understanding of and effective treatment options for PIH. Objectives The study objective was to validate an in vivo model for PIH and to compare the clinical, histological and spectroscopic characteristics of artificially induced PIH and acne-induced PIH. Methods A nonblinded, nonrandomized pilot study was performed. Thirty subjects served as their own control in which four sites treated with 35% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) solution and four truncal acne pustules were followed for 8 weeks and were evaluated clinically and histologically, and by colorimetry and spectroscopy. Results The initial phases of inflammation between TCA- and acne-induced PIH differ. However, clinical evaluations were similar on and after day 14. Acne- and TCA-induced lesions were clinically, histologically and spectroscopically indistinguishable at day 28. Conclusions Clinical, spectroscopic and histological similarities of acne-induced and TCA-induced PIH at day 28 suggest that TCA-induced PIH can be a reproducible model for the study of acne-induced PIH.
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