Hydroquinone Safety


Hydroquinone, a skin lightening or skin bleaching agent has been used for 40 or 50 years as an effective ingredient to fight hyperpigmentation (areas of darkened skin), but its use is controversial. Many countries, including most in the European Union, South Africa, Japan and Australia have banned its use for concerns that it’s a possible carcinogen.

The long term use of hydroquinone has been linked (though not conclusively) to:

  1. Ochronosis – which causes a darkening and thickening of the skin. It can also manifest yellow or gray domed spots, particularly on African skin types, which is why its ban is so important in countries like South Africa where it is smuggled in. Sun avoidance or sunscreen use decreases the likelihood of ochronosis occurring.
  2. Cancer – the use of hydroquinone is being investigated for its possible link to certain types of cancer, particularly certain blood cancers like Leukemia. However this link has not yet been established in humans.
  3. Changes in adrenal function (inconclusive).
  4. High levels of mercury in the body – but that too is also still being investigated.
  5. Kidney damage.

It’s important to note that most reports of ochronosis have been from Africa after a prolonged period of daily use — sometimes as long as 10 to 40 years — and in high concentrations. The problem has been rare in other countries. As for the cancer risk, studies have been done in mice and rats and so far there have been no links to cancer in humans found – not even with the population in Africa that abuses hydroquinone products.

In the United States, hydroquinone may be sold as a 2% concentration without a doctor’s prescription. In Canada, the maximum concentration allowed is a 4% concentration sold via pharmacies.

Due to safety concerns, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed a ban on selling all hydroquinone products without a prescription. This proposal has met with objections from the American Academy of Dermatology who consider hydroquinone to be safe and effective – the gold standard for treating pigmentation disorders.

If hydroquinone is used as directed it is largely a safe and effective product. Here’s how to use hydroquinone safely:

  1. Use the product under your physician’s guidance.
  2. As with all new skin care products, perform a skin patch test first.
  3. If you are allergic to sodium metasodium ensure that the product you are using doesn’t contain this ingredient. Some hydroquinone preparations do.
  4. The most common side effect is skin irritation including mild itching or stinging and reddening of the skin (irritant contact dermatitis). If these do not subside the cream should be stopped
  5. Avoid the sun or use sunscreen if you will be exposed to the sun
  6. Don’t use hydroquinone preparations if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  7. If no improvement is seen after 4 to 6 months, discontinue the cream. Check with your physician if it is safe to use it for longer periods.

In addition to hydroquinone, other skin lightening agents are available. View the selection of skin lightening products at www.pharmacymix.com

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Hydroquinone - Page 3 said,

July 5, 2008 @ 6:26 am

[…] if a Derm who has taken 15plus years to train is saying that then how ”dangerous” is it really? Hydroquinone Safety | Pharmacymix.com, Skin Care Pharmacy and Blog Specializing in Anthelios and Mex… […]

Sharmani said,

July 9, 2008 @ 10:08 am

Studies have shown that if hydroquinone is used as directed (low concentrations for short periods of time) then it is a very effective agent in the treatment of hyperpigmentation issues.

Almost all of the cases of ochronosis that have been reported are in individuals who have been using very high doses (greater than 4% concentration) for many, many years (10 or 20). And many of the other concerns with hydroquinone use have been inconclusive to date.

Where to get Hydroquinone Higher than 10 % said,

July 29, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

[…] longtime what a great link! thanks 2% HQ is not going to work on hyperpigmentation unless you are happy to wait 3 years for it to go if you have used 2% and its gone your hyperpigmentation clearly couldnt have been that bad i use 4% and its still there lol! the kligmans formula is also in 5% HQ so i dont know why people act like if you are going to use that percent you will die or something the kligmans formula was made by the worlds most famous dermatologist! as long as you arent using these products for years thats where the research was done the people who had used the HQ for 10-40 years where the people with the severe problems we often hear about Hydroquinone Safety | Pharmacymix.com, Skin Care Pharmacy and Blog Specializing in Anthelios and Mex… […]

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