Decoding Hydroquinone and its Uses
When the weather heats up and days get longer, the chances of skin having dark spots or patchy discoloured skin spots increases. The warm weather can take a toll on our skin and can cause hyperpigmentation. It is a condition in which the melanin pigment production increases along with the density of active melanocytes. Thus, there is an abnormal distribution of melanin along with the exogenous pigments. Melanin is a pigment that gives colour to our skin, eyes, and hair and is produced by melanocytes.
Situations like pregnancy, hormonal changes, exposure to UV radiation, acne, medicine side effect, and inflammation are the key causes of the excessive pigmentation of the skin.
Do we have a solution to Hyperpigmentation?
There is no magic wand to get rid of it, but we have treatments which can make the skin light. If we think of any skin lightening treatment, one can’t ignore Hydroquinone. It is one of the most widely accepted treatments for hyperpigmentation as a skin lightening agent which makes the skin tone even and light.
It is used off-label as a topical lightening agent for disorders like hyper pigmentation including melasma, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, sunspots, and freckles.
Hydroquinone as a depigmentation cream
Over the counter 2% of hydroquinone cream is considered to be the most effective treatment, to be applied to the hyperpigmented skin. On prescription, 4% of hydroquinone is prescribed by the doctor in order to overcome the persistent and dark spots.
Mode of Action
It works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase that converts tyrosine to dihydroxyphenylalanine which helps in fading the brown spots. It limits the production of excessive melanin and its clustering in the skin. It produces desirable results in two or three months of duration if applied religiously.
How to get most of it?
The healing process is quite slow and requires a lot of patience. The excessive pigmentation does not happen overnight, it takes years for melanin pigment to get clustered and changes the skin colour. Similarly, hydroquinone takes the time to lighten the skin and gives an even skin tone by hiding the blemishes or dark spots:
- Be cautious for few factors that can expedite the process of healing and helps the medicine to produce the desired
- Avoid sunlight or exposure to the sun by using sunscreen having SPF content more than 50. This will help to lighten the skin and increases the effect of hydroquinone.
- Always reapply the sunscreen before going under the sun. Carry an umbrella or cover your hyper pigmented area with a cloth that does not absorb sun rays. The sunscreen having soothing ingredients such as zinc oxide should be used.
- You have to look after your skin along with the medication in order to lighten the dark and stubborn spots.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water and apply water containing preparations and carrier oils.
How to take Hydroquinone?
- It is a topical medicine that is applied to the skin and is not meant to be ingested by mouth.
- Always apply on the affected area and rub it in a circular manner in a gentle way with the index
- Don’t apply near eyes, mouth, nose or other areas of sensitive skin.
- Apply at different intervals of the day but don’t exceed the recommended dose.
- It is used in black and white photography, x rays films and lithography
- Intermediate in production of antioxidants for rubber and food
- Stops polymerization during shipping, storage, and processing
Hydroquinone is a mainstay of melasma and management of hyperpigmentation. It is a bleaching agent and lightens the dark area which can cause skin problems like pimples, blemishes, dark pigmentation and acne scars. However, conditions like malignancy and ochronosis are reported with the use of hydroquinone. In the supervision of the physician, the prescribed dose of topical hydroquinone holds less risk of malignancy or ochronosis as compared to the unapproved formulation. Education about the proper use of medicine, along with its side effects is must for the patient as there is a decrease of drug abuse and misuse.