What Is Hydroquinone Cream?

Written by anna aronson
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Hydroquinone is a bleaching cream marketed under more than 30 brand names, including Lustra, Esoterica and Melanol. It is to be applied to the skin only, and users should be careful to avoid getting it in the mouth, eyes or nose. As with all topical lotions and creams, it is recommended that users test hydroquinone on a small patch of skin in an area that is not easily visible to see if there are any adverse reactions. Also, areas on which hydroquinine are applied may be more sensitive to the effects of the sun, so users should take extra measures to keep the skin protected. Users should also be sure to follow directions for the particular product they are using. Most products can be used until the discolouration becomes lighter, which may take a month of more.


Hydroquinone can be used to reduce the appearance of freckles, scars and other skin discolourations such as age spots. It is also used to treat melasma, a condition that causes dark skin spots. Because it lightens the skin, users should be careful to only apply it to affected areas so they do not experience unwanted skin lightening on other areas of the body.

How It Works

Hydroquinone reverses the process of hyperpigmentation, in which patches of the skin become discoloured. When the hyperpigmentation process is stopped, the skin becomes lighter.


Hydroquinone may not be safe for all people to use, including those with asthma and chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Additionally, hydroquinone may interfere with how some medications and skin products work, including those containing benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, phenol or salicylic acid.

Non-Serious Side Effects

People using hydroquinone cream may notice redness or dryness or experience mild stinging or burning where it is applied. This is no cause for concern.

Serious Side Effects

Some side effects of hydroquinone might be an indication of a condition that requires medical treatment. Inform your doctor immediately if you notice severe dryness or cracking of the skin, blistering skin or a blue-black skin discolouration near the area where it was applied.

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