Hydroquinone cream reactions can include hives.
Hydroquinone is a medication usually applied to the skin to help lighten areas of brown discoloration. Depending on the country the person lives in, they may have access to prescription or over-the-counter versions. No matter the prescription status, however, hydroquinone can have some side effects and healthcare professionals generally do not recommend its use in certain people.
Hydroquinone can cause skin darkening in people who don’t use sunscreen properly.
Melanin is the brown pigment found in the skin. Certain things, like pregnancy and sun exposure, can cause melanin to be overproduced, causing freckles, sunspots, or large areas of discoloration. While not harmful to a person’s health, some people may find skin darkening to be cosmetically unsightly and seek medical help. Hydroquinone is one of the medications that healthcare professionals can prescribe for superpigmentation because it normally reduces the amount of melanin in the skin, helping to lighten dark spots that may have formed.
Pregnant women should avoid hydroquinone.
In the United States, hydroquinone is commonly available as a prescription or over-the-counter topical medication. Prescription versions contain larger amounts of the active ingredient, typically up to 4% hydroquinone. Dermatologists and other skin care experts generally agree that these stronger prescription versions help to lighten skin faster. Over-the-counter versions are required by law to contain 2% or less of the active ingredient and therefore tend to take longer to take effect. In some other areas, such as in European Union countries, all dosages of the drug require a prescription.
People with kidney disease should not use hydroquinone.
Regardless of strength, hydroquinone can have some side effects. Common side effects that are generally considered mild may include temporary redness, itching, or burning of the skin where the drug is applied. In rare cases, hydroquinone can cause even more darkening of the skin where it is applied. This may be more likely to happen in people with naturally darker skin tones and those who don’t properly use sunscreen on the treatment areas. In some cases, allergic reactions such as hives, swelling and difficulty breathing may also occur.
People using hydroquinone treatment can burn quickly when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light.
Health care professionals often caution against using hydroquinone in certain people. This often includes people with liver or kidney disease and women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. For people with liver and kidney disease, some studies have shown that hydroquinone can cause a worsening of the underlying disease. Other studies have shown that the drug can cause birth defects in the development of fetuses in animals, which is why it is generally contraindicated during pregnancy.