In our new feature, "Ask Dr. Thrower," Dr. Thrower answers your questions about skin and hair care. Have a question for Dr. Thrower? Please submit it in the comments section below.
I am considering using hydroquinone to achieve a more even complexion, but I've heard that it's dangerous, so I'm concerned. What exactly is hydroquinone? Is it safe to use?
Dr. Thrower's Answer:
This is a very common question I hear from patients. Thanks for asking... it's time to clear up any misconceptions about hydroquinone.
What is hydroquinone?
Hydroquinone has been used for more than four decades in various concentrations to solve the aftermath of skin conditions in ethnic individuals as well as meeting the demand of ethnic individuals who desire a lighter shade complexion.
Is hydroquinone safe to use?
The FDA controls the concentrations of hydroquinone for over-the-counter use, which is 2% maximum. At this level, it is considered to be safe and effective.
At a higher concentration, hydroquinone must be prescribed by a physician. There are prescription concentrations prescribed by physicians at this level, as well as special formulas that are created by physicians and pharmacies. Under the guidance of your physician, who will direct you on the frequency, use and duration, hydroquinone is safe and effective.
The "problem" with hydroquinone is when patients do not follow physicians' guidance and/or purchase illegal concoctions.
There are numerous types of illegal skin lightening potions that are sold online and in beauty and barber (B&B) supply stores that contain unknown, unregulated concentrations of hydroquinone, which can be dangerous if not used under supervision.
Some of these creams also contain high potency topical steroids that are restricted to physician prescriptions.
Some of the side effects that occur with illegal online and B&B supply store products, include:
- Skin bleaching
- Thinning of the skin to the point where blood vessels are visible through the skin
- Darkening of the skin
- When applied to the total body, in addition to the reactions above, severe, disfiguring stretch marks can occur in various areas of the body
To answer your question, yes, hydroquinone is safe and effective when used in an FDA regulated, over-the-counter product or when prescribed by a physician and used under his or her supervision.
Dr. Thrower's Skin Care offers four products containing hydroquinone:
Dr. Thrower's Perfect Tone Cream (active ingredient: hydroquinone 4%) is available, by prescription, to current patients of Dr. Thrower, and must be used under his supervision.
Dr. Thrower's Skin Lightening Moisturizing Lotion (active ingredient: hydroquinone 2%) is available without a prescription.
Dr. Thrower's Dark Spot Fade Treatment Solution (active ingredient: hydroquinone 2%) is available without a prescription.
Dr. Thrower's PBC Cream (active ingredients: hydroquinone 12%, tretinoin 0.1%, betamethasone diproprianate 0.05%) is available, by prescription, to current patients of Dr. Thrower, and must be used under his supervision.