Hydroquinone is one of the substances that is usually prescribed by dermatologists to lighten skin blemishes. However, many people are afraid to use it, because you often hear about various side effects of medication.
In the end, is it a miracle against stains or a health risk? We interviewed dermatologist Samantha Enande to clear all those doubts.
Hydroquinone: what is it for?
Samantha explains that hydroquinone is an organic compound, a skin lightening agent for topical use—that is, to be applied directly to the skin.
“Basically, it is a skin whitening treatment, depigmentation of spots, which can be used for freckles, age spots or whenever there are dark spots on the skin,” he clarifies.
Samantha says that hydroquinone works on melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin, the substance responsible for skin pigmentation. “Hydroquinone blocks melanin production and increases the breakdown of cell bodies that store melanin,” she describes. Another action of hydroquinone is the blocking of the action of tyrosinase, an enzyme that participates in the formation of melanin.
There are different grades of hydroquinone (from 1 to 5%), and the higher the percentage, the stronger the depigmentation power.
Who can use it?
Whoever has skin blemishes that they want to get rid of can use hydroquinone, but remember: always under the supervision of a dermatologist. The substance, as stated, can cause allergies, burn and further stain the skin, so do not use it on your own, or you may worsen the problem and put your health at risk. In addition, only the doctor can prescribe the appropriate amount of the product, how many times to apply per day, the grade, among other specifications.
Contraindications: pregnant women, infants and children cannot use hydroquinone.
How to use it?
Hydroquinone can be used on any part of the body that has a spot that needs to be lightened, taking care with eyes and mucous membranes. “Apply at night and not expose yourself to the sun without sunscreen, it works for all depigmenting agents, especially hydroquinone,” the doctor clarifies.
Hydroquinone in the groin: is it possible?
The dermatologist says that hydroquinone can even be used to remove dark spots from places like the groin or armpit, but she wouldn’t recommend it for this use. “Hydroquinone is very irritating, we have less harmful substances for those regions. I prefer to recommend hydroquinone to the face, but nothing prevents it from being used in the groin or armpit, as long as none of the side effects described occur and it is used in the proper way and prescribed by the doctor, “he clarifies. she. There are other ways to lighten the groin and armpit, which are not as aggressive as hydroquinone.
How long does it take to lighten skin with hydroquinone?
«With a week of use, the place is reddish, after that, the depigmentation begins. After two weeks, the appearance of the skin is already better and, in almost a month, it is enough to reduce the use to two or three times a week, explains Samantha.
However, hydroquinone for skin lightening is not miraculous and it is not harmless either. “It is a substance that can irritate the skin, causing redness or contact dermatitis. Also, hydroquinone is photosensitive, which means that, on exposure to sunlight, it can cause other skin blemishes and make the appearance even worse,” says Samantha. The higher the grade of the hydroquinone, the more irritating it will be to the skin.
Another warning made by the dermatologist is regarding the prolonged use of the substance. “Some people end up presenting an excess of pigment, called ochronosis, it is a dark blue stain, almost irreversible and very difficult to remove.”
There is also a risk of developing an allergy to the product. “It really does cause some discomfort, and some people end up having a sensitivity to hydroquinone, in these cases, we have to stop using it,” he says.
To assess whether the patient is sensitive to the product, simply apply it to a small portion of the skin, in or near the area to be lightened, and observe for reactions such as excessive redness, inflammation, or blistering. In this case, use must be discontinued. A slight redness is considered normal.
Does hydroquinone cause cancer?
Samantha says that there are ongoing studies saying that hydroquinone can cause mutation in skin cells, offering the risk of developing cancer. “We cannot say yes or no, that is why there is research for the launch of new bleaches to replace hydroquinone, but all of this is still being studied,” she says.
Price and where to buy
Hydroquinone can be manipulated, but there is already a hydroquinone cream sold in pharmacies. However, it is always recommended to consult the doctor to have the best recommendation. In pharmacies, the price of hydroquinone is variable. In popular pharmacies, the average is $20 per 30-gram tube.