Hydroquinone for skin lightening: safety profile, duration of use and when should we stop?

J Dermatolog Treat. 2010 Sep;21(5):272-5. doi: 10.3109/09546630903341945.


Hydroquinone has been marketed in skin-lightening products for almost 50 years and remains as the most frequently used whitening constituent in the category. Issues and concerns have been raised regarding its potential dermatological and systemic side effects. These almost led to it being banned from the US market by the FDA in 2006. This article reviews its safety profile. The author also suggests on the duration of its use and advises on regular assessments by medical physicians.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydroquinones / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroquinones / adverse effects*
  • Melanocytes / drug effects
  • Pigmentation Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Hydroquinones
  • hydroquinone