Skin Whitening Treatment
Skin Whitening is a process for lightening skin tone using chemical substances, this method provides even skin complexion by decreasing the melanin concentration, the amount of melanin determines the color of the skin, Melanin is a type of skin pigment that is produced by the melanocytes, Individuals with dark complexion have more melanin, The melanin content in your skin is decided by your genetic makeup, Certain factors such as hormones, skin damage, exposure to sunlight, exposure to some chemicals may also affect the production of melanin.
The skin colour can change. For example, when direct exposure to sunlight is reduced, sun tans fade. However, over a period of time, some discolorations such as “liver” spots or “age” spots become more or less permanent.
What are the uses of Skin whitening?
Particular areas of abnormally high pigmentation like birthmarks and mole may be depigmented to match the skin around that area, on the other hand, in case of Vitiligo, unaffected skin may be whitened/lightened in order to give a more uniform look, If used for a long time skin whiteners may result in pigmentation increasing to joints of toes, fingers, ears, and buttocks. The facial skin may get thinned and the region surrounding the eye may have more pigmentation resulting in a ‘bleach panda effect’.
Skin whitening treatments are:
Most of the skin-whitening treatments, which can diminish or block some amount of melanin production, target inhibition of tyrosinase. Majority of treatments make use of mixtures of gels or topical lotions comprising of melanin-inhibiting ingredients along with a sunscreen, and a prescription retinoid, Based on the skin’s response to these treatments, exfoliating agents – either in the form of chemical peels or topical cosmetic agents – and lasers may be used.
Hydroquinone is thought to be the main topical component for stoppage of melanin production, Its ingredients have strong antioxidant properties, Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production, such that it arrests the process of making of substance responsible for skin color. Hydroquinone lightens the skin and can only disturb the synthesis & production of melanin hyperpigmentation.
Its use is banned in certain countries (like France) due to fears of a cancer risk.
Topical hydroquinone comes in 2% (available in cosmetics) to 4% (or more) concentrations (available by prescription or from a physician), alone or in combination with tretinoin 0.05% to 0.1%.
Arbutin is obtained from the leaves of cranberry, bearberry, blueberry, or mulberry shrubs, and may also be present in most type of pears. It may have melanin-inhibiting properties. Arbutin and other plant extracts are thought to be safer options to commonly used depigmenting agents in order to make the skin fairer. Arbutin exists in two isomers, alpha and beta; out of the two, alpha provides higher stability over the beta. Hence, alpha is preferred to beta for skin lightening.
Glutathione is a tripeptide molecule seen in mammals. It prevents oxidative damage to skin as it has strong antioxidant properties, Glutathione is also linked with skin lightening ability. Glutathione uses various mechanisms for exerting action as skin whitening agent at different levels of melanin production as follows:
It prevents the synthesis of melanin
Its antioxidant property provides protection to skin from UV radiation and other external as well as internal stressors generating free radicals responsible for causing skin damage and hyperpigmentation
Glutathione can be used in combination with many other agents like vitamin C to increase its absorption, N-acetyl cysteine to boost its level, and other antioxidants like vitamin E, Some oral intake of glutathione could have harmful effect when used in combination with other skin whitening agents like hydroquinone which is a cancer producing element and monobenzone which causes irreversible depigmentation.
Glutathione for skin whitening is available in soap, lotion, cream, injectable and in the form of nasal spray, Topical application of Glutathione does not result in efficient absorption by skin cells, The intravenous mode of administration provides direct absorption of glutathione in the systemic circulation and hence is the most preferred one.
Other components that can be used as Skin whitening agents include – kojic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), azelaic acid, Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), Niacinamide, licorice extract, etc.
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