For many years, hydroquinone has been the preferred method of treatment for hyperpigmentation, or the darkening of skin and nails. In recent years, concerns about side effects and health risks have prompted doctors to re-evaluate the effectiveness of hydroquinone. If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, weigh your alternatives carefully before using hydroquinone.

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Consult with your doctor or dermatologist about using hydroquinine as a topical cream to treat hyperpigmentation. If you are concerned with side effects, you may start off with a concentration of two percent hydroquinone before trying a four percent solution, which is the maximum. Side effects of using hydroquinone to treat hyperpigmentation include skin irritation, rash and a burning sensation.

Avoid using hydroquinone with other skin lightening agents, such as glucocorticoids or mercury iodine. In some countries, these ingredients are combined to achieve quicker and more dramatic results, but reports of skin irritations and an increased cancer risk are currently being studied. Always consult with your dermatologist before you combine hydroquinone therapy with any other type of skin lightening treatment.

Use a hydroquinone topical cream that has cortisone in order to treat hyperpigmentation. Cortisone can relieve the itching, dryness and skin irritations that can be caused by hydroquinone. In addition, medical studies have shown that the use of cortisone and hydroquinone together can eliminate most of the side effects common to each drug when used separately.

Keep your hydroquinone in a container that is opaque and airtight. Hydroquinone can quickly lose its potency and effectiveness if exposed to either light or air. You can determine whether hydroquinone has spoiled by a sudden brownish appearance of the cream.

Stay out of direct sunlight when you use hydroquinine to treat hyperpigmentation. Ultraviolet rays can quickly render the active ingredients of the medication ineffective. Wear protective clothing such as hats and long-sleeved shirts while using hydroquinone, and use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Ask your doctor or dermatologist about the use of alternative treatments that are based on hydroquinone. Natural compounds such as bearberry extract, mulberry extract and licorice also contain arbutin, which discourages the production of melanin, or skin pigment. You can use these organic compounds as an alternative to hydroquinone if you are concerned about the health risks.