Topical Treatment for Skin Pigmentation

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Topical treatments mean that they are applied directly to the affected area, such as in the form of a cream. There are various creams which can be applied directly to the skin which can lighten it, in order to reduce the appearance of pigmented areas. Some of the most commonly used creams that can be used to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation are described below.


Hydroquinone can be used as a skin whitening cream but is actually banned in the UK, as well as in other countries, as it is thought that it could cause cancer. It lightens the skin by blocking the production of melanin which is what gives the skin its colour.


Tretinoin or Retin-A is a vitamin A derivative used to treat acne as well as sun damaged skin and hyperpigmentation. It works by causing cells to grow and die at a much faster rate than normal. By replacing the skin at a faster rate, it can be used to lighten hyperpigmented areas. These areas should start to fade around 6-8 weeks after starting treatment. You should not use this treatment with other skin treatment as it will cause skin irritation. You should also not use it if you are taking other drugs which will increase the sensitivity of your skin to the sun, such as tetracycline. Other side effects can include inflammation and stinging at the site of use and it will often cause dryness and redness.


Lumixyl can be used to reduce the appearance of mild to moderate hyperpigmentation such as melasma, age spots and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is a synthetic peptide and so should not cause skin irritation. Lumixyl is thought to act by inhibiting the enzyme which is responsible for producing melanin in the skin.

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is used to treat acne as well as to reduce the appearance of freckles and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It works by preventing melanocytes from growing and can also cause them to die. A common side effect of this treatment is irritation at the site of application.

Kojic acid

Kojic acid is a skin lightening cream. It works by inhibiting an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. Possible side effects include causing irritant contact dermatitis. You can apply kojic acid along with a topical corticosteroid in order to reduce any irritation that the kojic acid may cause.

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