Hydroquinone

An at-home skin-brightening agent that fades marks and evens tone

The skin-brightening agent hydroquinone presents a robust at-home treatment for pushing back against troubling dark patches of skin that can arise as a result of changing hormones, acne, pregnancy, excess sun or genetic melasma.

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Dr Sarah Tonks says...

“Hydroquinone can be extremely effective for patients who have struggled to see results with other treatments – the fact they can be used every day at home presents a clear advantage to an in-clinic treatment, which can only be used infrequently. The best part is that all these treatments are complementary to one another and can be used in concert.”

What is it and how does it work?

A top-class solution in treating hyperpigmentation (a common condition that renders some areas of skin darker than others), hydroquinone is a prescription-based aromatic organic compound that lightens dark patches of skin by blocking the dermal process that in turn leads to discolouration. It functions by reducing the production of melanin pigments in the skin and also by making these pigments weaker – a pincer movement that not only lightens the skin but also ensures a more uniform skin tone.

 

Unlike oral tranexamic acid, which impacts the body universally, the application is topical, meaning it’s applied solely to specific problem areas as a cream with the fingertips. Notably, some preparations of tranexamic acid can be delivered intradermally, via injections into the skin to spot treat specific areas.

 

Hydroquinone is often used in conjunction with tretinoin – a potent form of synthetic vitamin A with excellent anti-ageing, acne-fighting properties that’s also used to treat hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. When applied together, the penetration and effectiveness of hydroquinone is enhanced. Tretinoin also helps to inhibit pigmentation in its own right by disrupting the pathway that melanin takes to the surface of the skin.

 

This treatment is only available if considered suitable by a doctor or independent nurse-prescriber after direct consultation.

Which body parts is it designed for?

Hydroquinone is applied to wherever on the body that pigmentation issues arise.

Who is it primarily good for?

Hydroquinone is well-suited to people where other non-prescription treatments have failed to halt pigmentation. The creams are typically used in conjunction with the aforementioned tretinoin, creating the perfect anti-ageing combination.

How long will it last for and what’s the downtime?

The treatment can be very long lasting; because it serves to block melanin production as well as fading existing dark spots, it may also prevent new discolouration forming in the future. However, in some cases hyperpigmentation does return. In these instances, we may advise taking a break from hydroquinone and switching to a non-prescription product to let the body reset (with a view to recommencing hydroquinone at a later stage).

 

There is generally no downtime associated with these treatments, aside from some minor irritation and occasional peeling due to tretinoin depending on the strength used, but please remember that all treatment responses and recovery times are dependent on the individual patient.

What other treatments does it work well with?

What else should I know?

While considered suitable for all skin types, hydroquinone should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or breast feeding, and it should not be used continuously for a period longer than six months.

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A TOP-CLASS SOLUTION FOR TREATING HYPERPIGMENTATION, HYDROQUINONE REDUCES THE PRODUCTION OF MELANIN PIGMENTS IN THE SKIN AND MAKES THOSE PIGMENTS APPEAR WEAKER – A PINCER MOVEMENT THAT OFFERS LIGHTENING AS WELL AS A MORE UNIFORM SKIN TONE.

FAQS

Here are a few final things that you might like to know before taking things forward. If you have any other questions we haven’t thought of yet, no problem! Please email us at hello@thelovelyclinic.co.uk and one of the team will get back to you as quickly as they possibly can.

CAN THE TREATMENT BE REVERSED?

While there is no reversal process per se, you can stop using the creams at any point. However, in the case of treatment for melasma (brown to grey-brown patches on the face), halting a course of treatment does mean that the pigmentation is likely to return. To get the best results for each patient, we’ll create an individualised post-hydroquinone plan to ensure a smooth transition off the medication.

DOES IT HURT?

No, although its partner medication, tretinoin (a potent form of anti-ageing synthetic vitamin A that’s also used to treat hyperpigmentation and wrinkles) can make the skin feel more sensitive.

WHEN DOES IT START TO WORK?

The medication will take effect approximately a month after the initial treatment, but you’ll need to wait for at least three months to see the best results.

What can go wrong?

Some patients may experience some dryness, blistering, ochronosis (yellow-coloured discolouration) and rebound hyperpigmentation.