Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin that has been established as the most effective ingredient for reducing and eliminating hyperpigmentation such as brown spots, hyperpigmentation and melasma. Many of our patients are prescribed hydroquinone to treat these skin disorders, and with any prescription, there comes questions.
What is hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone is a topical skin-lightening ingredient commonly used in skin care products. It is best known for its ability to lighten and reduce the appearance of brown spots and improve the overall skin tone in patients. It can be found in a wide variety of plants and foods such as berries, wheat, berries, broccoli, onions, coffee, tea and red wine.
How does hydroquinone work?
Melanocytes are the color-producing cells in the skin. The excess color production causes brown spots to form on the surface of the skin. Hyrdoquinone works by inhibiting the melanocyte pigment production and helps lighten the brown spots.
Is hydroquinone effective in treating hyperpigmentation?
Hydroquinone has been used as a treatment for hyperpigmentation problems in the United States since the 1950s. Millions of patients have been using products that contain hydroquinone.
Low concentrations of hydroquinone, such as 2% or less, are available over the counter to patients. A prescription from a physician is required for 4% hydroquinone in the United States.
Is hydroquinone safe to use?
Hydroquinone triple treatment “Kligman Formula” is considered the gold standard for treating hyperpigmentation such as melisma. It has been used in skin care products for over 50 years. It has been well documented in many clinical studies that 4% hydroquinone is safe and effective when used to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma. It does need to be used properly under a physician’s care.
What are the side effects when using hydroquinone?
The most common side effects may include skin irritation, dryness, minor redness or mild burning. More severe side effects (exogenous ochronosis) may occur, but they are extremely rare.
Tips when using hydroquinone:
- Do not use hydroquinone with other skin bleaching or brightening products.
- Always use sunscreen when using hydroquinone.
- Throw away any hydroquinone product that turns brown. This means the hydroquinone became oxidized and is no longer active.
- Contact a physician if you experience any severe side effects.
To learn more about our many Skincare products, or to schedule your consultation with Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Moenster or Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Weye, please fill out the form on this page. You can call our Tucson location at 520-207-3100 or our Sierra Vista location at 520-458-1787. We look forward to seeing you soon!