We use Hydroquinone to lighten dark patches of skin the skin. Particularly, hydroquinone is prescribed when those dark patches are caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or other injuries to the skin. As a bleaching agent, Hydroquinone is frequently used to treat melasma. Hydroquinone has shown to be helpful in epidermal-type melasma. A variety of concentrations are available over-the-counter and by prescription, and can vary between 2% to 10%. Typically, the effects of hydroquinone reach their peak at around 3 months of continued use, but your doctor may determine a different duration or concentration is right for you.
Also a topical skin-bleaching agent used for treating hyperpigmented skin conditions, the effects of lightening skin can be reversed when exposed to sunlight. As a result, it’s important that those who are prescribed hydroquinone for skin lightening continue regular use until the intended results are achieved. Hydroquinone can be found in a variety of forms, including creams, emulsions, gels, lotions and solutions. The maximum concentration for over the counter creams is 2%, but can be prescribed by a dermatologist and compounded by a compounding pharmacy in higher concentrations.
Hydroquinone works by blocking the process in the skin that leads to discoloration. While there is actually no bleach in the compound, hydrouinone is often referred to as a “beaching cream”. Scientifically, hydroquinone lightens the skin by blocking melanin production by melanocytes. Hydroquinone inhibits the conversion of tyrosine enzymes to dihydroxyphenylalanine, resulting in the reduction of pigment the patient is looking for. In the end, this process leads to a decrease in melanocytes and lessens the transfer of melanin, which causes the skin to lighten.
Oftentimes acne can lead to inflammatory pigmentation after the acne subsides. The red marks and spots of differing skin tone are the result of healed acne lesions that have left a mark. The scars and spots of discoloration can contribute significantly to the self confidence of a person. A prescription compounded hydroquinone cream is one method dermatologists may choose to heal the discoloration left by acne breakouts.
Directions for Using Hydroquinone
Follow instructions provided by your doctor or pharmacist. If applicable, follow all directions on product package. Typically, patients are instructed to apply this compound to the affected areas two times a day, but everybody is different, so follow instructions by you doctor or pharmacist.
It is recommended that prior to using Hydroquinone at prescription strengths, patients apply a small amount of Hydroquinone to an area of healthy skin to ensure that after 24 hours, no serious side effects are evident. Mild redness is to be expected and is not considered a reason to discontinue use. However, if there is a significant negative or concerning effect, as described above, contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately. It may be advisable to stop using the medication completely.
Side Effects and Precautions of Hydroquinone
For most people, hydroquinone is very well tolerated; that said, side effects do occur. Your doctor has prescribed this medication because they believe the potential benefits outweigh the risk of side effect. Common side effects include itching, red, puffy, or blistering, dryness, irritation, pruritus, erythema, and a mild irritant contact dermatitis. If these side effects continue or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If you experience skin cracking or blue-black darkening of the skin, contact your doctor right away.
Keep this compound out of reach of children. Hydroquinone compounded is intended for use on the skin only. If Hydroquinone is not used correctly, you may experience unwanted skin lightening. Avoid getting Hydroquinone in your eyes or on the inside of your nose or mouth. If you do get this medication in unwanted areas, flush the area with plenty of water.
Your skin may become more sensitive to the sun while using Hydroquinone, so avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps and apply plenty of sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors, particularly on the treated areas.
As a tip: apply this medication at the same time each day. By doing this, you’ll form a habit around using this medication regularly, and regular use is the only way to get the desired results you’re looking for.
This list of potential side effects is not complete. If other effects not listed above occur, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
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