Our expert says:
Hi Sam, thank you for the question.
As far as I am aware the use of hydroquinone (2% over the counter and 4% with a doctor’s prescription) has not been banned for skin use as a skin lightener and/or depigmentation treatment.
You are 100% correct in that hydroquinone (as with any medication we use) can produce topical side effects and in rare instances may be severe. Furthermore I do believe that all topically supplied products should be dispensed in a sealed format but this may be difficult in the case of hydroquinone as it is always mixed in with some base cream at the time of dispensing (or close to it). The ‘brown matter’ is the oxidization of the trace hydroquinone and I would not be too concerned over this.
The effects of hydroquinone may only be visible after a number of months and considering we are in the height of summer you need to practice sun avoidance and use a good SPF 50 or higher several times daily.
As a medical practitioner I agree with you that the effects (both positive and possible negative ones) should have been discussed with you at the time of your consultation. My approach would be to contact the dermatologist and discuss your concerns with him directly.
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