Summer is here, and along with it the excitement of everyone who loves the look of a sun kissed glow. However, from a skin health point of view, we know that too much sun exposure isn’t good for your skin. It puts you at a higher risk of premature aging, skin cancer and skin discolorations.
Sun exposure increases the likelihood of developing hyperpigmentation and can exacerbate existing cases. It’s no wonder that this time of year there’s also an increased interest in skin lightening treatments to heal and repair hyperpigmentation.
Hydroquinone is a well-known skin lightening ingredient, with high-quality Hydroquinone products having a reputation of following through on their claims. This makes it one of the first treatments that many people consider when looking for relief from hyperpigmentation.
The beginning of summer is the perfect time to talk about the different forms of hyperpigmentation and other skin discolorations that can be treated with the use of Hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone to Treat Melasma
Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation that’s confined generally to the face or neck. It primarily effects women and is triggered by sun exposure and hormones. Melasma has also been coined as “the mask of pregnancy” because the fluctuations of hormones during pregnancy can led to the condition.
Melasma is characterized by dark patches of skin, typically on the forehead, upper lip and around the nose – although it can occur anywhere.
Melasma can fade on its own once the trigger factors have been eliminated, but it usually takes longer to fade than most people with the condition are comfortable with. The condition can also be incredibly stubborn while the trigger still exists.
Laser treatments offer a solution, but they can be inconvenient and cost prohibitive. Hydroquinone is an effective, affordable treatment for Melasma.
The effectiveness of non-prescription strength Hydroquinone for Melasma depends on the severity and trigger of the condition. It may take the full 4-6 weeks before signs of relief appear, and additional cycles of treatment may be necessary.
Keep in mind that pregnant or breastfeeding women should speak with their dermatologist or health care provider before beginning Hydroquinone treatment.
Hydroquinone for Acne Scars
As if dealing with acne wasn’t uncomfortable enough, many times scarring from blemishes remain behind as a not so subtle reminder. While most acne scars fade on their own, the process can take weeks, if not months. For more severe acne, or for blemishes that were irritated or scabbed over, the time it takes for them to fade can be even longer.
Many people ask if Hydroquinone treats acne scars, and the answer is a definite yes.
Hydroquinone, especially when combined with a mild concentration of retinol, helps to fade the discoloration of acne scars. It’s important to remember that during treatment, care should be taken to not make scarring worse. A gentle skin care regime and avoiding sun exposure are key to success with a 2% Hydroquinone preparation.
Keep in mind that Hydroquinone is designed to treat the discolorations of scarring and is limited in its ability to heal raised or indented acne scars.
Will Hydroquinone Fade Moles?
The effectiveness of Hydroquinone for treating moles is a frequently asked question. First, if a mole is new or has changed, it’s important to first see a dermatologist to have it examined.
Secondly, a dermatologist can also perform a procedure to completely remove a mole, however if removal isn’t an option, Hydroquinone is an effective treatment for reducing the appearance.
Hydroquinone works by disrupting the life cycle of pigment molecules. Once this happens they die off and can be sloughed away from the skin. Applying Hydroquinone to light colored moles can make them practically unnoticeable, while applying it to darker moles can significantly reduce the coloring.
Hydroquinone for Freckles
Freckles are a form of hyperpigmentation that can easily be treated with a 2% Hydroquinone formula. However, there are a few things to remember when using Hydroquinone as a treatment.
First, freckles are often brought out by the sun, and skin treated with Hydroquinone is even more susceptible to UV exposure. To minimize freckles and maximize treatment, take precautions against sun exposure, especially during treatment.
Secondly, freckles are also a hereditary trait. It’s incredible hard to fight genetics with a topical application, so be prepared for them to reappear at some point. Hydroquinone should be used in cycles, with a break of at least 4-6 weeks between treatment.
What are the Limits of Hydroquinone?
While Hydroquinone will fade age spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation, there are some limits to what the ingredient can do, and research is still ongoing about some applications.
For example, most preparations are formulated for the skin on the face, neck and arms. Meaning that Hydroquinone for under eye discolorations isn’t advisable. The skin in this area is just too delicate, in addition to the proximity of the eye.
Some people use Hydroquinone to lighten tattoos. While Hydroquinone can pull out some of the pigment, it cannot on its own completely remove a tattoo.
Hydroquinone can be used on larger areas of skin, but care should be taken. For example, if a tan is darker than desired, Hydroquinone can help to lighten and even the skin tone, but it really is more appropriate for smaller patches that are darker. Treating your skin with Hydroquinone requires extra care in your regular skin care routine to include gentle cleansing, exfoliation and moisturizing, along with extra precautions against sun exposure. It can be difficult to consistently care for larger areas of skin in the way that Hydroquinone demands.
Hydroquinone can treat a variety of hyperpigmentation conditions, but it’s important to remember that quality is everything. A high-quality Hydroquinone product is going to be more effective and gentler than an inferior one. Take the time to research your Hydroquinone product and how well it’s designed to work for your needs. Your skin is too important to deserve anything less.
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