Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2016 May-Jun;82(3):262-72. doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.179088.

Glutathione as a skin whitening agent: Facts, myths, evidence and controversies.

Author information

1
Skinnocence: The Skin Clinic, Gurgaon, Haryana, India.

Abstract

Glutathione is a low molecular weight thiol-tripeptide that plays a prominent role in maintaining intracellular redox balance. In addition to its remarkable antioxidant properties, the discovery of its antimelanogenic properties has led to its promotion as a skin-lightening agent. It is widely used for this indication in some ethnic populations. However, there is a dichotomy between evidence to support its efficacy and safety. The hype around its depigmentary properties may be a marketing gimmick of pharma-cosmeceutical companies. This review focuses on the various aspects of glutathione: its metabolism, mechanism of action and the scientific evidence to evaluate its efficacy as a systemic skin-lightening agent. Glutathione is present intracellularly in its reduced form and plays an important role in various physiological functions. Its skin-lightening effects result from direct as well as indirect inhibition of the tyrosinase enzyme and switching from eumelanin to phaeomelanin production. It is available in oral, parenteral and topical forms. Although the use of intravenous glutathione injections is popular, there is no evidence to prove its efficacy. In fact, the adverse effects caused by intravenous glutathione have led the Food and Drug Administration of Philippines to issue a public warning condemning its use for off-label indications such as skin lightening. Currently, there are three randomized controlled trials that support the skin-lightening effect and good safety profile of topical and oral glutathione. However, key questions such as the duration of treatment, longevity of skin-lightening effect and maintenance protocols remain unanswered. More randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with larger sample size, long-term follow-up and well-defined efficacy outcomes are warranted to establish the relevance of this molecule in disorders of hyperpigmentation and skin lightening.

PMID:
27088927
DOI:
10.4103/0378-6323.179088
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Medknow Publications and Media Pvt Ltd
Loading ...
Support Center