If you have tried home treatments for dark spots on your skin with little success, you may be wondering what your next step is to address the problem. What should you do when over-the-counter treatments don’t work? Read on to find out.
Topical lightening treatments for conditions like melasma and hyperpigmentation generally work by preventing the production of melanin, a biological pigment, in the treatment area. Many ingredients found in OTC topical treatments for hyperpigmentation are also found in prescription-strength formulas, just in lower concentrations.
There are a number of reasons over-the-counter treatments don’t work to clear up melasma, including:
Studies of over-the-counter (OTC) lightening treatments on melasma and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation indicate an improvement rate of just 26.5% according to study participants (Saade).
Many people assume that topical treatments are safe and difficult to misuse if they are available without a prescription, which can lead to negligible results or even side effects.
Hydroquinone is a lightening agent that is considered the “gold standard” treatment for hyperpigmentation and melasma. Up until September 2020, hydroquinone was available OTC in concentrations of 2% or less in the United States.
However, the CARES Act included language requiring retailers to remove hydroquinone products from shelves to prevent misuse, especially as an all-over skin lightening treatment. Ingredients you may currently find in OTC topical formulas include kojic acid, cysteamine, ascorbic acid, methimazole, and tranexamic acid.
Many people underestimate how much sun exposure can contribute to their hyperpigmentation concerns. Melanocytes – cells at the base layer of the dermis – produce melanin to protect the skin when exposed to ultraviolet light. Just one day of significant sun exposure can undo months of progress in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Some lifestyle changes in addition to your treatment plan may help, such as:
People are often reluctant to seek medically-guided prescription solutions for hyperpigmentation, as these option can be inconvenient and expensive. However, prescription-strength creams can help clear up melasma. If you’re tired of over-the-counter treatments that don’t work, a new group of online options have emerged as an alternative to traditional dermatology practices that can brings expert dermatological care to your door and remotely.
We worked closely with experts to create a skin quiz that guides you to the best treatments on the market.Get at Home Treatment