Depigmenting Agents

Chapter
Part of the Updates in Clinical Dermatology book series (UCD)

Abstract

Several depigmenting agents are now available both for topical and systemic use with varying degrees of evidence on their efficacy and safety. These agents act by inhibiting melanogenesis, interrupting melanosome transfer, accelerating epidermal desquamation with melanin turnover, antioxidant effects and by other methods. The topical agents that act mainly by inhibiting melanogenesis through tyrosinase inhibition include hydroquinone and derivatives, arbutin, kojic acid, azelaic acid, methimazole, gentisic acid, flavonoids (aloesin, licorice) and antioxidants (ascorbic acid, alpha tocopherols and grapeseed extracts). Examples of agents that interrupt melanosome transfer are niacinamide, soybeans and lectins. Topical agents that accelerate epidermal desquamation and melanin turnover include retinoids, hydroxy acids, salicylic acids and linoleic acids. Other agents that act by varying mechanisms are tranexamic acid, steroids and other active ingredients found in various plant extracts. Topical therapies in combination are found to be more effective as add-on agents to optimise the effects of the other agents and mitigate the side effects of primary agents. They are often used as first-line therapy. The systemic agents used include tranexamic acid, glutathione, oral vitamin C and vitamin E. Some systemic agents such as glutathione are often misused without adequate evidence of its efficacy and long-term safety.

Keywords

Depigmenting agents Topical depigmenting therapies Systemic depigmenting agents Inhibiting melanogenesis Tyrosinase inhibitors Hydroquinone Retinoids 

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of ColomboColomboSri Lanka
  2. 2.Sinclair DermatologyEast MelbourneAustralia

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