What is hydroquinone?

It is atopical medication (i.e., a cream applicable to the skin) used to treat skin discoloration disorders, also known as dyschromia.

Classic examples ofdyschromic diseasesare melasma, chloasma, solar lentiginosis, freckles, senile lentigo and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (as occur after types of eczema orfungal skin infections).

Note: Dyschromia, in general, can be classified based on the coloration of the lesions; There are those that cause skin depigmentation (hypopigmentation) or excessive skin pigmentation (hyperpigmentation). (1)

Benefits of Hydroquinone

The effectiveness of hydroquinoneis recognized by medical skin specialists ingeneral; It is considered the Gold Standard (first-line treatment) against post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation resulting from acne. (2)

Next, we will explain some of its benefits.

1. Reduces excess melanin in the skin

Hyperpigmentation, that’s calledexcess melanin in the skin. But what is melanin? It is the pigment that gives color to our skin. The more you have, the darker your complexion will be.

Note: Hydroquinone simply breaks this cycle. How does he do it? The drug possesses a biochemical structuresimilar to melanin precursors. Tyrosinase “confuses” hydroquinone for these precursors, acting on it and not on the latter.

2. Reduces acne, sun and old age spots

Hyperpigmentationis given by multiple pathologies, the most common are sunburn, acne and age.

Note: The prevalence of these spots is more common in people of color, being even the third most common skin disease in African-American patients, according to a study published in 1983 in the journalCutis(3)

3. Reduces psoriasis and eczema marks

Psoriasis and its different forms are known to leave spots in their areas of involvement. On the otherhand, eczema, a term that encompasses multiple pathologies, produces thickening of the skin and deformation of its integrity (in some cases due to prolonged exposure to chemicals).

For both cases, the use of hydroquinone for 3 to 6 months has shown favorable resultsonly if they have hyperpigmented spots. It should be noted that the use of hydroquinone is not part of the first lines of treatment.

Hydroquinone Uses

After being prescribed by a specialist doctor(never do it without a medical opinion), the time and number of uses of the cream will be indicated to you, it is generally applied to the affected areas. Next, we will explain its most frequent uses.

1. On the face

Before applying the cream, make sure the area is dry and cleantag. Scoop a small amount onto your fingers and gently apply to your skin, using circular motions.

Note: It is recommended to apply the cream evenly over the entire length of the face, since, otherwise, you could cause the appearance of areas of greater and/or less coloration than others. (4)

2. On the body

It is more frequent in the case of dermatitis and eczematous affections,which have a broader distribution. Specialists recommend its application 1 to 2 times, for 3 to 6 months.

Important: If an adverse reaction to the medicationis observed (such as swelling, hives, itching in the area where it was applied), discontinue treatment immediately. If no improvement is observed during these months, refer to a specialist doctor (dermatologist) preferably again.

Hydroquinone Side Effects

There are certain side effects or unwanted effectsthat appear in a subgroup of people treated with the drug. Next, we will explain the most common ones.

1. Allergic reaction

Note: These reactions are characterized by inflammation, itching, swelling and even pain in the area, depending on the degree of the condition.

2. Bluish skin tone

Phenomenon known as Exogenous ochronosistag. It has been observed in patients who continue to use the cream, in high concentrations, indefinitely on large areas of the skin.

Curious fact: There is an endogenous ochronosis, a chromosomal disease that produces an accumulation of homogentisic acid in tissues such as the skin, due to a deficiency in an enzyme in the metabolism of tyrosine. (6)

3. Rebound effect

Excessive use of hydroquinone, or application of creams with high concentrations, can have a toxic effect on melanocytes. In certain cases, as a compensatory response, they can regroup and produce greater amounts of melanin.

This effect is more likely to occur if the cream is used in conjunction with glycolic acid or vitamin C, which can produce irritating effects on the skin.

Key Conclusions

  • Hydroquinone is a cream used to reduce excessive coloration of the skin, produced by sunburn, infections or other causes.
  • Its use extends from weeks to months for effects to be observed, the cream must be applied to affected areas.
  • Excessive use of the creamshould be avoided, especially if it is of high concentrations, as it increases the risk of unwanted effects.
  • Among the side effects are allergic reactions , skin with a bluish tone and rebound effect.

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