Hydroquinone: What Is It For?

If you want to remove skin spots, ask your trusted dermatologist about getting a hydroquinone treatment. Keep reading to learn more.
Hydroquinone: What Is It For?

Last update: 14 January, 2021

Hydroquinone is a chemical product that’s common in lightening treatments. Mainly, it helps lighten dark spots on the skin.

There are products with different concentrations of hydroquinone. The higher the concentration, the stronger the depigmenting action.

Mechanism of action of hydroquinone

The National Library of Medicine of the United States explains that melanin is the substance responsible for the pigmentation of the skin, as well as the hair and iris of the eyes.

Hydroquinone works by blocking the production of melanin in the skin. In addition, it increases the degradation of cells that store melanin. By inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that converts tyrosine into melanin, it blocks melanin production.

In addition, it alters the structure of melanosomes, increasing their degradation or decreasing their production. The result of hydroquinone treatment is smoother, more even-toned skin.

What’s it for?

A person with dark skin spots.

Hydroquinone treats skin hyperpigmentation like melasma, chloasma or lentigos. Lentigos are a fairly common type of spot that appears from chronic exposure to the sun, usually after the summer.

There are different alternatives and treatments depending on the type of skin spot. Hydroquinone is one of them, and it’s very common, as you can read in the medical encyclopedia we mentioned earlier. However, it’s important for a professional to determine the best option for you.

There are several causes of skin spots, but the most common is sun exposureAlthough solar radiation is a determining factor, it’s not the only one. For example, other factors that can cause skin spots are:

  • Skin phototype: They’re more common in fair skin, phototypes I or II.
  • Medications: In fact, some drugs, like contraceptives, are photosensitive and can cause sun spots.
  • Pregnancy
  • Tobacco use
  • Genetics and age
  • Previous skin lesions

How is hydroquinone used?

The article Hydroquinone Skin Bleaching Cream on WebMD notes that you can use this compound on any part of the body that you want to lighten. However, be very careful around the eyes and mucous membranes.

Also, hydroquinone only interferes with the formation of new melanin. Therefore, it doesn’t immediately lighten your skin. In fact, it can take a few weeks to see its benefits.

Additionally, its effects are only temporary. This is because melanin production starts again once the treatment stops. However, depigmentation can persist between 2 and 6 months after finishing treatment.

Possible side effects

Skin pimples.

According to WebMD, some of the most common complications are:

  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Redness of the skin
  • Allergy to the component
  • Burning sensation

However, other reactions like blisters, swelling of the skin or tongue, shortness of breath and chest pain may also appear in some people. Also, hydroquinone is photosensitive, which means that with exposure to sunlight, it can cause other blemishes and make the skin look even worse.

Other side effects are related to leaving the cream on for too long. For example, this includes a loss of elasticity in the skin or discoloration of the nails.

Also, prolonged use could lead to excess pigment, known as ochronosis. This is a dark blue stain, almost irreversible and very difficult to remove.

In addition, there’s a risk of developing an allergy to the product. To know if you’re allergic to hydroquinone, you should apply a little bit to a small area of the skin. Although slight redness is considered normal, if you notice an allergic reaction, you should stop using it.

Use under medical supervision

To get results, it’s best to use this product regularly. Also, combine it with the specific photoprotector for each case.

This way, you’ll get better results, and they’ll last longer. Finally, don’t forget to check with your dermatologist to see if this is the best treatment for you.

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