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Your Post-Inflammatory Erythema Won’t Go Away (6 Reasons Why)

Post inflammatory erythema (PIE) is caused by redness in the skin from inflammatory acne. It can often last weeks to months depending on how severe the breakout was. Many people struggling with PIE feel helpless when many over the counter treatments so not work to fade this redness over time. 

There are quite a few reasons as to why your post-inflammatory erythema is not fading. It can be due to poor skincare and lifestyle habits. 

1. Not Moisturizing Enough

Using a high-quality moisturizer in your routine is exceptionally important. Not only does moisturizing the skin increase hydration, but it also decreases water loss.

By doing this, it reinforces the structural barrier of the skin. This helps the skin stay strong to fight against environmental stressors.

These external stressors include UV rays, pollution, harsh weather conditions and drying skin care products.

Moisturizing the skin can leave your skin cells softer and more resistant to breakage and inflammation.

Post-inflammatory erythema is exacerbated by dry skin that is inflamed and irritated. Irritation often stems from having dehydrated skin.

Therefore, it is incredibly beneficial to add in a moisturizer into your routine to reduce redness and help fade PIE.

Many people use serums or light lotions in place of a thick moisturizer. While this may work for some people, these thin consistencies and gel-like substances with hardly any moisturizing properties can leave your skin drier than usual. 

Opt for a moisturizer that includes hydrators like hyaluronic acid. In addition, look for emollients like glycerin and skin-repairing ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide.

2. Using Too Many Active Ingredients

girl with redness and post-inflammatory erythema along jawline and cheek

Your post-inflammatory erythema won’t go away if you are using too many harsh active ingredients on the skin.

PIE is not hyperpigmentation in the skin. It is not caused by dark spots or scarring. Instead, it is the result of blood pooling underneath the skin that causes a red spot to form.

Active ingredients increase the rate at which dead skin cells shed. Ingredients like glycolic acid, other acids, and retinoids do a great job of sloughing off skin cells.

However, they won’t necessarily make your PIE better.

In fact, using too many of these active ingredients may just cause more redness and irritation on the skin.

It is best to use gentle, moisturizing ingredients to nourish the skin while your PIE heals. You can add in one active ingredient in your routine, but use it sparingly.

3. Your Facial Cleanser Is Too Drying

Although facial cleansers are only on your skin for a short amount of time, you’d be surprised how much they influence the health of your skin.

Using a cleanser daily for just 30 seconds at a time can effect the pH and protein content on your skin.

You want to choose a cleanser with gentle surfactants that won’t cause skin drying and inflammation.

Opt for a cleanser with surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate or sodium isethionate.

These do not strip the skin of its natural oils. Using drying cleansers effect the skin barrier and can cause excessive irritation in the skin. This prevents PIE from healing. 

4. Poor Skin Care Habits

Post-inflammatory erythema won’t go away if you are engaging in poor skin care habits.

This includes using the wrong products, not cleansing your skin enough, and using abrasive ingredients and substances on the skin.

Wrong products can include using skin care products high in alcohol or fragrance.

I wrote a handy blog post all about pore-clogging ingredients to avoid. You should also avoid these ingredients to prevent irritation and inflammation that can make PIE worse.

Another skin care habit that can cause increased inflammation in the skin involves not cleansing enough.

You should only cleanse your skin one to two times per day. Most people do this. What many people don’t do is that they do not properly cleanse the skin at night with two cleansers to ensure all makeup, dirt, oil, and sunscreen is washed off.

I recommend using either an oil cleanser or micellar water to remove makeup and sunscreen, and then a gentle second cleanser to ensure everything is removed. Here is an in-depth post comparing oil cleansing and micellar water for cleansing the skin.

Not removing makeup and sunscreen properly can lead to breakouts, inflammation, and irritation.

As mentioned above, using too many active ingredients and other abrasive ingredients (such as alcohol and exfoliating scrubs) will wreak havoc on your skin barrier.

This leads to more redness and makes PIE worse. Also, using towels and harsh fabrics to dry the skin will also exacerbate redness.

5. Not Eating Healthy

Healthy eating is an incredibly important part of skin health.

Consuming the right amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates contributes to the health of your skin. It contributes to the skin’s ability to fight against inflammation throughout the body and the skin.

Vitamins like zinc (prevents inflammation) and antioxidants like berries (fights free radicals and skin aging) keep skin healthy.

PIE is due largely because of inflammation in the skin. Therefore, adding anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmericand even ayurvedic recipes liketriphala can balance the skin’s health and fight PIE.

6. Not Using The Right Treatments

Unfortunately, post-inflammatory won’t go away unless you also incorporate the correct treatments into your skin care routine.

Having a healthy lifestyle, avoiding harsh products, and using a gentle cleanser will speed up skin healing.

However, your PIE could still last a while.

You also need to incorporate proven therapies to fade PIE.

The main treatments for PIE involves using heavy moisturizer, occlusives, and nourishing ingredients that rebuild the skin’s barrier.

I have blog posts on each of these. You can read about finding the perfect moisturizer, how an occlusive like Vaseline can improve your PIEand how to repair a damaged skin barrier

Using ingredients that can actually retain moisture in the skin is what is going to fade PIE faster. Why? Because PIE is the result of inflammation – anything that hugs the skin barrier and softens skin cells will reduce inflammation and speed up wound healing. 


Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review – PMC (

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