Hydroquinone is the gold standard treatment for hyperpigmentation such as melasma (brownish patches that usually appear on the face, especially over the cheeks).
It’s available only with a prescription – it has been banned from sale over the counter in most parts of the world because of concerns about a condition called onchronosis and a carcinogenic effect.
However, the fact is that onchronosis is very rare and the carcinogenic effect was only found with rodents, never in humans.
The consensus is that it is safe when prescribed by a doctor.
Answer contributed by Dr Komathy Rajaratnam, founder of The Lifestyle Clinic.
Dr Rajaratnam specialises with dealing with beauty and aesthetic issues relevant to the Indian body type.