Skip to Content

Hydroquinone

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 12, 2020.

Pronunciation

(HYE droe kwin one)

Index Terms

  • Hydroquinol
  • Quinol

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product

Cream, External:

Alphaquin HP: 4% (28.4 g [DSC], 56.7 g [DSC])

AMBI Fade: 2% (56 g) [contains cetyl alcohol, disodium edta, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, soy protein, soya sterol]

Blanche: 4% (30 g) [contains cetearyl alcohol, disodium edta, sodium metabisulfite]

EpiQuin Micro: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, methylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine), vitamin a, vitamin e]

Esoterica Daytime: 2% (70 g [DSC]) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium bisulfite]

Esoterica Daytime: 2% (70 g [DSC]) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite]

Esoterica Facial: 2% (85 g)

Esoterica Fade Nighttime: 2% (70 g [DSC]) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite]

Esoterica Sensitive Skin: 1.5% (85 g)

Hydroquinone Time Release: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, edetate disodium, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine)]

Melpaque HP: 4% (14.2 g, 28.35 g [DSC])

Remergent HQ: 4% (30 mL) [contains sodium metabisulfite]

Skin Bleaching: 4% (28.35 g [DSC])

Skin Bleaching-Sunscreen: 4% (28.35 g [DSC]) [contains cetostearyl alcohol, glycerin, isopropyl palmitate, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium metabisulfite, sorbic acid, water, purified]

TL Hydroquinone: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, edetate disodium, methylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine)]

Generic: 4% (28.35 g)

Gel, External:

Exuviance Lightening Complex: 2% (30 g [DSC]) [contains denatured alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfite, tartrazine (fd&c yellow #5)]

NeoStrata HQ Skin Lightening: 2% (30 g [DSC]) [fragrance free, oil free; contains propylene glycol, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfite]

Solution, External:

Melquin 3: 3% (29.57 mL [DSC])

Brand Names: U.S.

  • Alphaquin HP [DSC]
  • AMBI Fade [OTC]
  • Blanche
  • EpiQuin Micro
  • Esoterica Daytime [OTC] [DSC]
  • Esoterica Facial [OTC]
  • Esoterica Fade Nighttime [OTC] [DSC]
  • Esoterica Sensitive Skin [OTC]
  • Exuviance Lightening Complex [OTC] [DSC]
  • Hydroquinone Time Release
  • Melpaque HP
  • Melquin 3 [DSC]
  • NeoStrata HQ Skin Lightening [OTC] [DSC]
  • Remergent HQ
  • Skin Bleaching [DSC]
  • Skin Bleaching-Sunscreen [DSC]
  • TL Hydroquinone

Pharmacologic Category

  • Depigmenting Agent

Pharmacology

Produces reversible depigmentation of the skin by suppression of melanocyte metabolic processes, in particular the inhibition of the enzymatic oxidation of tyrosine to DOPA (3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine); sun exposure reverses this effect and will cause repigmentation.

Onset of Action

Onset of depigmentation produced by hydroquinone varies among individuals

Duration of Action

Onset and duration of depigmentation produced by hydroquinone varies among individuals

Use: Labeled Indications

Skin bleaching: Gradual bleaching of hyperpigmented skin conditions, such as chloasma, melasma, freckles, senile lentigines, and other unwanted areas of melanin hyperpigmentation

Contraindications

Hypersensitivity to hydroquinone or any component of the formulation

Dosing: Adult

Skin bleaching: Topical: Apply a thin layer to the affected areas and rub in well twice daily, in the morning and at bedtime Discontinue use if no improvement is seen after 2 to 3 months of treatment.

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Skin bleaching: Children ≥12 years and Adolescents: Refer to adult dosing.

Administration

For external use only; avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes. Apply a thin layer using fingertips to the affected areas and rub in well. Avoid sun exposure during treatment and maintenance therapy by using a broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) or protective clothing.

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.

Frequency not defined.

Dermatologic: Allergic skin reaction, dermatitis, erythema, inflammation, stinging of the skin, xeroderma

Local: Local irritation

Warnings/Precautions

Other warnings/precautions:

• Appropriate use: Limit application to area no larger than face and neck or hands and arms.

Pregnancy Risk Factor

C

Pregnancy Considerations

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with topical administration; the amount of systemic absorption is unknown.

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

• It is used to lighten the skin where there are changes in color.

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

• Dry skin

• Stinging

• Redness

• Skin irritation

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Change in color of skin to blue-black

• Blisters or sores

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine’s uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.