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Generic name: hydroquinone topical

Brand names: Esoterica, Melquin, Eldopaque Forte, Eldoquin Forte, Melanex, Melquin-3, Nuquin HP, Melquin HP, Eldoquin, Eldopaque, Melanol, Melpaque HP, Viquin Forte, Hydroquinone and Sunscreen, Solaquin, Lustra, Alphaquin HP, Esoterica Sensitive Skin, Lustra-AF, Glyquin

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product

Cream, External:

Alphaquin HP: 4% (28.4 g [DSC], 56.7 g [DSC])

AMBI Fade: 2% (56 g) [contains cetyl alcohol, disodium edta, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, soy protein, soya sterol]

Blanche: 4% (30 g) [contains cetearyl alcohol, disodium edta, sodium metabisulfite]

EpiQuin Micro: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, methylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine), vitamin a, vitamin e]

Esoterica Daytime: 2% (70 g [DSC]) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium bisulfite]

Esoterica Daytime: 2% (70 g) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite]

Esoterica Facial: 2% (85 g)

Esoterica Fade Nighttime: 2% (70 g [DSC]) [contains disodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, propylparaben, sodium metabisulfite]

Esoterica Sensitive Skin: 1.5% (85 g)

Hydroquinone Time Release: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, edetate disodium, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine)]

Melpaque HP: 4% (14.2 g, 28.35 g [DSC])

Remergent HQ: 4% (30 mL) [contains sodium metabisulfite]

Skin Bleaching: 4% (28.35 g [DSC])

Skin Bleaching-Sunscreen: 4% (28.35 g [DSC]) [contains cetostearyl alcohol, glycerin, isopropyl palmitate, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium metabisulfite, sorbic acid, water, purified]

TL Hydroquinone: 4% (30 g) [contains benzyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, edetate disodium, methylparaben, sodium metabisulfite, trolamine (triethanolamine)]

Generic: 4% (28.35 g)

Emulsion, External:

Aclaro: 4% (48.2 g [DSC]) [contains benzyl alcohol, sodium metabisulfite]

Gel, External:

Exuviance Lightening Complex: 2% (30 g [DSC]) [contains denatured alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfite, tartrazine (fd&c yellow #5)]

NeoStrata HQ Skin Lightening: 2% (30 g [DSC]) [fragrance free, oil free; contains propylene glycol, sodium bisulfite, sodium sulfite]

Solution, External:

Melquin 3: 3% (29.57 mL [DSC])


Mechanism of Action

Produces reversible depigmentation of the skin by suppression of melanocyte metabolic processes, in particular the inhibition of the enzymatic oxidation of tyrosine to DOPA (3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine); sun exposure reverses this effect and will cause repigmentation.


Onset of Action

Onset of depigmentation produced by hydroquinone varies among individuals

Duration of Action

Onset and duration of depigmentation produced by hydroquinone varies among individuals

Use: Labeled Indications

Skin bleaching: Gradual bleaching of hyperpigmented skin conditions, such as chloasma, melasma, freckles, senile lentigines, and other unwanted areas of melanin hyperpigmentation


Hypersensitivity to hydroquinone or any component of the formulation

Dosage and Administration

Dosing: Adult

Skin bleaching: Topical: Apply a thin layer to the affected areas and rub in well twice daily, in the morning and at bedtime Discontinue use if no improvement is seen after 2 to 3 months of treatment.

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Skin bleaching: Children ≥12 years and Adolescents: Refer to adult dosing.


For external use only; avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes. Apply a thin layer using fingertips to the affected areas and rub in well. Avoid sun exposure during treatment and maintenance therapy by using a broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) or protective clothing.

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

Frequency not defined.

Dermatologic: Allergic skin reaction, dermatitis, erythema, inflammation, stinging of the skin, xeroderma

Local: Local irritation


Other warnings/precautions:

  • Appropriate use: Limit application to area no larger than face and neck or hands and arms.


Pregnancy Risk Factor


Pregnancy Considerations

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with topical administration; the amount of systemic absorption is unknown.

Patient Education

  • Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
  • Patient may experience redness or dry skin. Have patient report immediately to prescriber severe skin irritation, skin discoloration, itching, or skin sores (HCAHPS).
  • Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.

Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for healthcare professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience and judgment in diagnosing, treating and advising patients.

Source: Wolters Kluwer Health. Last updated February 8, 2020.