Skin whitening treatment evens out the color variation and improves fairness.Skin whitening is a cosmetic treatment for achieving lighter, brighter and fairer tone especially when there are some uneven pigmentation problems existing.
Topical skin whitening treatmentThere are many topical applications available with single or combination of ingredients. A brief description of the skin brightening agents is given below.
Though mercury compounds were used in fairness creams, their use is now banned in most of the countries due to their systemic absorption and tissue accumulation.Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone (C6H4(OH)2) containing topical preparations are used for suppressing melanin production.
Howver this chemical is now banned in European Union due to possible cancer risk.Glutathione
Glutathione (C10H17N3O6S) is being used singly or in combination with other medicines in skin fairness treatment.
Glutathione, which is also a potent endogenous antioxidant, interferes with melanin synthesis and gives fairness.Arbutin
Arbutin (C12H16O7 - hydroquinone-beta-D-glucoside) is a widely available natural melanin synthesis inhibitor.
It is present in leaves of mulberry, cranberry, blueberry, white mulberry, paper mulberry and bearberry and also present in many types of pears.
Many topical skin whitening treatment products contain this as one of the ingredients.Tretinoin
Tretinoin (C20H28O2 - all-trans retinoic acid), a form of vitamin A, has wide topical uses like acne control, stretch mark removal and wrinkle removal.
Tretinoin has been successfully used in combination with other products in skin whitening treatment.Vitamin C
Various forms of vitamin C (C6H8O6) like ascorbyl glucosamine, L-ascorbic acid, Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbic acid are used in topical preparation for skin fairness treatment.
Vitamin C being a potent antioxidant removes the free radicals which induce the production of melanin.Azelaic acid
Azelaic acid (C9H16O4) is present in cereals like barley, rye and wheat.
It is found to be effective on acne and discoloration.
Azelaic acid also shows skin whitening properties and used in fairness treatment.Glycolic acid
Glycolic acid (C2H4O3), an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), is an effective skin whitening agent.
It is also used in glycolic acid peels for removing old dark epidermal debris, bringing out the glowing inner epidermis.Lactic acid
Lactic acid (C3H6O3), an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), is similar to glycolic acid and apart from being used in peels, it is found to be useful in skin whitening treatment.Kojic acid
Kojic acid (C6H6O4), a by-product of rice fermentation, is an effective inhibitor of melanin production.Kojic acid as such is unstable in cosmetic preparations and instead of this, kojic dipalmitate is used which is equally efficient whitening treatment.
Skin whitening treatment with systemic administrationApart from topical application, systemic administration (both enteral and parenteral) of medicines can be done in skin treatment.
The ideal candidates for oral supplementation are glutathione and glutathione precursors like N-acetylcysteine (NAC).
As glutathione is not well absorbed in the intestine, it is taken along with vitamin C in high doses to keep it in its reduced state for better absorption.
Whey proteins, S-adenosylmethionine, alpha lipoic acid, melatonin and silymarin have been found to boost the glutathione levels in the body.Glutathione IV injections are available (though costly) which are very effective in raising glutathione plasma levels and help in improving fairness.
Skin whitening treatment by permanent depigmentationThis method is especially useful for persons with large patches of vitiligo.
They can even out their skin color with the use of chemicals like monobenzone and mequinol.
Permanent depigmentation and destruction of melanocytes may be caused by monobenzone (C13H12O2).
As a topical medicine, monobenzone treatment is used for permanently depigmenting and whitening normal skin surrounding vitiligo lesions in patients with greater than 50 percent of body surface area covered by vitiligo.
Mequinol (C7H8O2), a monomethyl ether of hydroquinone, is used in combination with tretinoin (C20H28O2) in the therapy of age spots and liver spots.In higher doses mequinol is used as a topical application for medical depigmentation in persons with more than 50% vitiligo cover.
Laser skin whitening treatmentIntense pulsed light, nonablative lasers and ablative lasers are used especially in the case of melasma hyperpigmentation.
Dermal melasma is generally less responsive to treatment and Fraxel laser provide improvement to most of the patients.The results of laser therapy are not consistent and in some cases result in hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation of the treated area, especially in people with darker skin tones.
Skin whitening treatment with cryosurgeryCryosurgery (cryotherapy) is the selective application of extreme cold for controlled destruction of abnormal or diseased tissue.
Generally liquid nitrogen is used in cryosurgery for controlled destruction of epidermal cells and melanocytes.
This causes the regeneration of the epidermis, pushing out the excess melanin which peels off in a few days during desquamation.
After this whitening treatment, fresh skin cells are produced which have reduced melanin and give a fairer and brighter appearance. Cryosurgery is very useful in treating freckles.
The effects in all these skin whitening treatment methods are gradual and progressive.
Exposure to sunlight must be strictly avoided and broad spectrum sunscreens must be used after the treatment, as ultraviolet light-A, Ultraviolet light-B and visible sunlight will induce melanin production and repigmentation.
Related topics on skin care:
Glutathione for skin whitening
Pros and cons of the procedure
Permanent methods for fairness
Natural tips and remedies for fairness
Discoloration problems and hyperpigmentation
Skin whitening treatment and methods (current topic)