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Dermatol Clin. 2011 Jan;29(1):111-23. doi: 10.1016/j.det.2010.08.010. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Widespread use of toxic skin lightening compounds: medical and psychosocial aspects.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8030, USA.


Hyperpigmentation disorders and skin lightening treatments have a significant impact on the dermatologic, physiologic, psychologic, economic, social, and cultural aspects of life. Skin lightening compounds, such as hydroquinone and topical corticosteroids, are often used to treat hyperpigmentation disorders, such as melasma, or lighten skin for cosmetic purposes. Despite their established effectiveness, a multitude of dermatologic and systemic complications have been associated with these agents. Regulatory agencies have also recognized the adverse effects of skin lighteners and many countries around the world now forbid the production and sale of these compounds, although this prohibition has not significantly curtailed distribution. Dermatologists and users of cosmetic products should be aware of the various components in bleaching compounds, their potential adverse effects, and alternative options for skin lightening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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