Hydroquinone is irritating to me and making pigment worse – is this permanent?

Hello, I had some mild melasma on my check and tried a 4% hydroquinone cream for one month that irritated my skin and significantly darkened the patch and also made the patch larger. Is this new pigmentation permanent? Should I try other treatments to help this new pigmentation? Thank you

The good news is generally no, as long as you stop using it fairly quickly. Darkening of skin after irritation, eczema, allergy, etc. is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and will usually go away over several months.  Read more information about pigment problems. It’s important to remove the skin irritant, use bland products for sensitive skin, and a hi-zinc (10% or more) containing sunscreen. If it’s severe, see your doctor for various possible prescription treatments.


Your skin will be more sensitive in general for about a month after any irritation. This reason is why many dermatologists use the prescription “triple creams” like Triluma because they have the hydroquinone plus a mild steroid to reduce irritation and tretinoin which counteracts the side effects of the mild steroid. Used for short courses (1-6 months), a triple cream can be very effective.


Hope this helps.


Dr. I


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Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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