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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Dangerous Skin Problems Caused By Hydroquinone


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Ebiojo David
I am a Biochemist and Naturopath, I love writing and educating people on health and wellness matters.

In my last post, I wrote about dangerous habits that damage your skin and in that post, I talked about using harmful products and chemicals on your skin. One of such chemicals is hydroquinone and in this post, we will be looking at the effect of hydroquinone on your skin. Hydroquinone was originally invented to treat skin pigmentation and stubborn spots.


Medically, anything you put on your skin is a drug. In the past, hydroquinone can only be gotten with a doctor’s prescription but that is not the same now as a lot of people now have access to hydroquinone products despite the public outcry against its dangers.

If you want a healthy skin and you want to avoid skin problems and health complications caused by all these chemical based skin care products; don’t apply anything that you cannot eat on your skin.

Hydroquinone is a popular ingredient used in making many skin lightening creams and products because it is a lightening agent. Hydroquinone was recalled from the in the late 80’s when it was discovered it is harmful to the skin.

It was later confirmed safe by the FDA only when used in 2% concentrations. Yet, there are a lot of skin problems and health complications that can be caused when you use skin products containing hydroquinone for a long period of time.

As said earlier, hydroquinone is used as a quick remedy for treating sun spots, hyperpigmentation and to improve complexion or to achieve a lighter skin tone.

How Hydroquinone Works?

Hydroquinone functions by reducing the amount of melanin your skin produces. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its tone and color. It also causes a bright effect on the top layer of your skin, (the dermis). It does this by keeping the production of melanocytes, your skin cells, to the lowest minimum.

It also works by stopping the functions and activities of enzymes which are responsible for hyperpigmentation. Many countries have banned hydroquinone because of the dangers it causes on the skin, examples are Japan and the United Kingdom.

The FDA has also proposed a ban on products containing hydroquinone. It is a carcinogen, it increases your risk of skin cancer and makes you prone to a lot of skin problems.

Dangers Caused By Hydroquinone

The main danger of the substance hydroquinone is that is it a mutagenic and cytotoxic substance. It leads to harmful cell mutation that can cause skin cancer and other forms of cancer, it can cause cell damage and other health problems such as:


Photosensitivity: Hydroquinone makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight and this, in turn, will cause severe sunburn, chapped and irritated skin, and other skin problems.

Exogenous Ochronosis: Hydroquinone induces serious exogenous ochronosis, this skin condition is a form of dermatitis that is characterized by a brown-grey or bluish-black hyperpigmentation on the surface of your skin. This condition can also cause skin thickening and the risk is higher in dark-skinned people who use hydroquinone for a long time in high concentrations. It also causes tiny yellow and brown bumps and grey-brown spots on your skin.

Skin Cancer: Hydroquinone has been linked to the formation of skin cancers because it is a carcinogen. Studies were done on rodents in which they were fed very high doses of hydroquinone using feeding tubes and they showed the potential to cause cancers.

Toxicity: Hydroquinone is toxic when it is present in our bodies in large amounts and we know our skin has pores which make it easy for things to get in. That is why naturopaths advised that anything you cannot eat should not be applied on your skin.

Hydroquinone toxicity can cause ringing in your ears, bluish skin, seizures, nausea, and other health problems. The blue skin is caused by insufficient oxygen in your blood (cyanosis). Large concentrations of oral hydroquinone induce liver damage. If you want to be on a safe side, avoid hydroquinone products.

Increases susceptibility to UV damage: Hydroquinone leads to increased exposure to UVA and UVB radiation by damaging your top skin layer. This increases the sensitivity of your skin to direct sunlight, it also causes sunburns, spots, hyperpigmentation, and skin cancers. Apart from skin cancer, hydroquinone can cause other types of internal cancers also.

Allergies: Although many people have different reactions to hydroquinone, many have reported allergic reactions after using hydroquinone products for a long time.

Some of the allergic reactions reported are severe stinging or burning sensations, breathing problems, hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, facial swelling and others. Any reaction to hydroquinone is treated as a medical emergency.

Skin Irritation: Hydroquinone causes general skin irritation. This manifests in the form of rashes, redness, itching, and even a burning or stinging sensation. The severity of the irritation can vary from person to person because some people are more sensitive to hydroquinone than others.

What To Do Next?

Now that you have known the dangers of hydroquinone, the best thing to do is to avoid skin care products containing hydroquinone and use a natural approach in treating spots, blemishes, and a dull appearance.


Before you buy any cream or lotion, read the label properly and avoid anyone containing hydroquinone. It would be better if you go for natural skin care products.

You can also make use of essential oils and other types of healthy oil on your skin. Some effective ones to use are lemon essential oil, orange oil, lemon balm, or lemongrass oil, Neroli oil, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil, and many others.

These oils protect and heal your skin, and they have no risk or side effects. They are very rich in vitamin C and they have lightening effects also. They restore the production of collagen and strengthen your skin cells.

Shea butter and cocoa butter are wonderful natural alternatives you can use on your skin. If you are looking for a light complexion, then you should try a combination of licorice root extract and vitamin B3, they will naturally give you a light and bright complexion without damaging your skin.

One drawback with the natural approach is that they don’t act fast, that is why a lot of people don’t use them, but this doesn’t cancel the fact that they work and that they are far safer on your skin than all these chemically synthesized products.

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