What is Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is a depigmenting agent "skin lightener" used to lighten areas of darkened skin, it used in many whitening creams and dark mark fade treatments to remove dark spots such as freckles, age spots, chloasma, and melisma caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or injury to the skin. it decreases the formation of melanin in the skin. Melanin is responsible for the pigmentation of the skin.
Key facts about Hydroquinone Usage
Without a doubt, hydroquinone is very effective for treating hyperpigmentation issues. However, its safety is also highly questionable. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule that hydroquinone be considered "generally recognized as safe and effective," or GRASE. Depending on the concentration of hydroquinone in your skin lightener, you may get sufficient results; however, there are known side effects you should be aware of when using a hydroquinone-based bleaching cream.
- Cosmetic skin-lightening products containing hydroquinone often have a strident scent reminiscent of bleach, and in fact, they are often referred to as "bleaching creams."
- Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which is important in skin pigment (melanin) development. It is important to be aware that Melanin actually provides protection against UV radiation. It is more effective than any sunscreen known to man. It diffuses UV radiation and turns it into harmless heat. since hydroquinone decreases the melanin pigments in our skin, our skin becomes more sensitive to the sun. This increases UVA and UVB exposure, which in turn, increases the risk of getting more future hyperpigmentation
- Combining Hydroquinone with skin products that contain benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, or other peroxides, (found in most acne treatment) is harmful to the skin. This causes temporary staining of the skin. studies have shown that hydroquinone has some carcinogenic effects when applied to skin. It is considered cytotoxic (toxic to cells) and mutagenic. Studies have also shown that long term hydroquinone use can cause exogenous ochronosis, which is when your skin turns a bluish and black color
- 4% and above hydroquinone concentration is generally considered by most dermatologists to be one of the most effective skin-lightening and age spot-brightening agents. Overall, it is considered to be safer for Caucasians and light-skinned asians but not as safe for darker-skinned people (Africans). Hydroquinone not only inhibits melanin production to help lighten skin, but long term use can actually damage your pigment cells.
Effects of Hydroquinone :
Using Hydroquinone is counter-productive. It defeats the purpose which you want it to achieve. You want glowing, radiant, healthy and brighter skin. The long-term use only leads to these horrible signs and effects: unseemly dark knuckles and ankles, unsightly purplish vericose veins, a patch-work of colours on once beautiful skin.
Hydroquinone clearly has a proven serious side-effect on humans as it causes pigmentation of the eye and permanent corneal damage . This only occurs when the eye is directly exposed to hydroquinone (So if you are still bent on using hydroquinone based products, avoid direct contact with the eyes).
A common effect associated with hydroquinone is skin irritation; continued use of hydroquinone has been associated with ochronosis, which is a skin disorder characterized by progressive sooty darkening of the skin. it should not be used on skin that is dry, chapped, sunburned or already irritated, nor should it be applied to an open wound. Irritation can be reduced by avoiding the use of harsh cleansing agents, such as soaps and shampoos, hair dye, permanent waves, cream depilatories, waxes made for hair removal and products that contain alcohol, lime, spices or other astringents. Avoid using medicated products unless instructed by a physician.
Hydroquinone thins out the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), which is dangerous especially during or post- surgical procedures, as it may take the skin a longer time to heal from cuts, wounds and/or stitches.
Hydroquinone makes your skin more sensitive to the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays, It whitens skin by killing your skin’s pigment cells. It also degenerates collagen and elastin fibres in the skin (Note: Collagen should be strengthened in order to have a youthful, smooth and glowing skin). However, if you are trying to fade sun spots, freckles and other types of hyperpigmentation, sun protection is essential.
If you live in the tropical region, the combination of hydroquinone and the sun is a bad one.Increased risk of ochronosis have been linked to excess sun exposure while using hydroquinone. As such, dermatologists often recommend to always use hydroquinone with a sunscreen. (Note: In the hot African climate, sometimes, even sunscreens do not offer enough protection for the skin)
- Hydorquinone ages your skin and as you get older the effects become even more pronounced. It is not a pretty sight to see someone whose skin has been damaged by prolonged years of hydroquinone use! Age gracefully and not with disgrace. Love your skin today so that it keeps well and not fall apart
- When purchasing a skin-lightening cream that contains hydroquinone, make sure to read the product's label first, nonprescription products can contain, by law, up to two percent hydroquinone. If the skin lightener that piques your interest does not specify a concentration, it is best to pass it over. If you use a topical cream that contains too much hydroquinone you might end up with discoloration that is almost impossible to treat. Only your doctor can tell you if it is safe to use hydroquinone at a concentration of more than two percent.
- If you have extremely stubborn hyperpigmentation issues that absolutely do not respond to any other kind of treatment (i.e. chemical peels, microdermabrasion, retinoids, laser, etc.), hydroquinone may be your skin's last resort. What hydroquinone is to hyperpigmentation is what Accutane is to acne. Hydroquinone should only be used if and only if you have exhausted all other treatment options.