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Hydroquinone (topical agent)

Know the basics|Know the precautions & warnings|Know the side effects|Know the interactions|Understand the Dosage

Know the basics

What is hydroquinone used for?

Hydroquinone is used to lighten the dark patches of skin (also called hyperpigmentation, melasma, “liver spots,” “age spots,” freckles) caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone medicine, or injury to the skin.

Hydroquinone works by blocking the process in the skin that leads to discoloration.

How should I take it?

Follow all directions on the product package, or use as directed by your doctor. Before using, apply a small amount of hydroquinone to an area of unbroken skin, and check the area within 24 hours for any serious side effects. If the test area is itching, red, puffy, or blistering, do not use hydroquinone and contact your doctor. If there is just mild redness, then treatment with hydroquinone may begin.

Apply hydroquinone to the affected areas of skin, usually twice daily or as directed by your doctor. Hydroquinone is for use on the skin only. If it is used incorrectly, unwanted skin lightening may occur. Avoid getting hydroquinone in your eyes or on the inside of your nose or mouth. If you do get hydroquinone in those areas, flush with plenty of water.

Hydroquinone may make the treated areas of skin more sensitive to the sun. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing on the treated areas of skin when outdoors.

Use hydroquinone regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same times each day.

Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens after 2 months.

How do I store it?

This product is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store it in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of hydroquinone that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using hydroquinone?

Before using hydroquinone, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as sulfites), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: asthma, other skin conditions (e.g., eczema, psoriasis).

Is it safe to take during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Avoid applying this medication to the breast and nipple area before breastfeeding. Wait for 1-2 hours after applying it and cleanse the area with mild soap and water before allowing your child to breastfeed or pumping breast milk.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of hydroquinone?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using this medication and call your doctor if you have severe burning, stinging, or other irritation of your skin after apply the medication.

Less serious side effects may include mild burning, stinging, itching, redness, or irritation of treated skin.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with hydroquinone?

This drug may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use.

Does food or alcohol interact with hydroquinone?

This drug may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with hydroquinone?

Hydroquinone may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • liver or kidney disease;
  • asthma or sulfite allergy;
  • if you are using any antibiotic medicine.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Hydroquinone for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Dermatological Disorders: Chloasma, Melasma, Freckles, Senile lentigines, Areas of melanin hyperpigmentation:

Apply to affected area twice daily.

What is the dose of Hydroquinone for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Dermatological Disorders: Chloasma, Melasma, Freckles, Senile lentigines, Areas of melanin hyperpigmentation:

Greater than 13 years: Apply to affected area twice daily.

Available dosages

Hydroquinone is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Cream, External: 4%

Emulsion, External: 4%

Gel, External: 4%

Solution, External: 3%

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of hydroquinone , take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Hydroquinone https://www.mims.com/philippines/drug/info/hydroquinone?mtype=generic Accessed March 12, 2021

Hydroquinone https://dermnetnz.org/topics/hydroquinone/ Accessed March 12, 2021

Hydroquinone https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539693/ Accessed March 12, 2021

Hydroquinone https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydroquinone Accessed March 12, 2021

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD on May 02, 2020
Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD
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