Widespread use of toxic skin lightening compounds: Medical and psychosocial aspects

Barry Ladizinski, Nisha Mistry, Roopal V. Kundu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalDermatologic clinics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Exogenous ochronosis
  • Hydroquinone
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Mercury poisoning
  • Skin bleaching
  • Skin lightening
  • Skin whitening
  • Topical corticosteroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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