Is it safe to use hydroquinone during pregnancy

Is it safe to use hydroquinone during pregnancy

As of 2019, Nigeria has joined the growing list of African countries that have banned bleaching products containing hydroquinone and mercury. Ghana effected the ban in 2016, Cote d’Ivoire banned this ingredient in 2015, and Tanzania did it in 2017. The ban notwithstanding, many people have continued to use skin lightening products in many of these countries. But is it safe to use hydroquinone during pregnancy?

Is it safe to use hydroquinone during pregnancy

What is hydroquinone?

According to, hydroquinone is a popular skin-lightening agent in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world. There have been lots of studies over the years to determine if hydroquinone is safe for use and what quantities should be used in products.

After a few debates that led to the temporary recalling of products containing hydroquinone, the U.S Food and Drug Administration reached the conclusion that hydroquinone is safe in 2% concentrations and can be sold over the counter. In spite of this, a lot of women still have concerns about using hydroquinone during pregnancy.

How does hydroquinone work?

Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the enzymes responsible for producing melanin. Melanin, on the other hand, determines the colour of a person’s hair, eyes, and skin. People with darker skin have a higher concentration of melanin. When hydroquinone is applied to the skin, it decreases the production of melanin and leads to skin lightening.

One can see the skin lightening effect of this bleaching agent after about 3 weeks of use. However, to see the full results, it would take months of continuous use.

What are the uses of hydroquinone?

This skin lightening agent is effective for fading:

Age spots




Age spots

Liver spots

Eczema scars

Psoriasis scars

Additionally, people who want to lighten the overall appearance of their skin use lotions and soaps containing this ingredient to achieve this goal.

Is it safe to use hydroquinone during pregnancy

 How to use Hydroquinone

In countries where this product is banned, the fight isn’t to keep it out at all costs. The message is that it is safe for use when it is no more than 2%.  So how can you use it to treat the skin conditions listed above?

You have to first of all do a patch test to see if you are allergic to the product.

·         Take a small amount of the lotion and rub in on your forearm

·         Wait for 5 hours to see if your skin reacts negatively to the product

·         If you notice swelling, blistering or redness, discontinue use.

·         If all goes well, you should use it for about five months before you start to discontinue; you should never use it more than 5 months at a time.

·         If you don’t see any improvements in your condition after three months, you should stop using it

Sun exposure while using bleaching agents will not only reverse the lightening effect of the products and make the condition worse, but it can also cause serious, sometimes irreversible side effects.

Possible side effects of hydroquinone during pregnancy 

There’s a reason many countries have banned this bleaching agent. The side effects are serious and worth considering. Pregnant women have to think about using it more than anyone else, as the side effects of hydroquinone during pregnancy can affect the fetus.

These are side effects people have reported while using hydroquinone:

·         Can cause severe skin dryness

·         Long-term use of bleaching products can make the skin take on a blue-black complexion, which is popularly called coke and Fanta skin colour in Nigeria

·         Another reason why you should reconsider hydroquinone during pregnancy is that it can cause a burning or stinging sensation

·         Contact dermatitis is also a widespread side effect of hydroquinone

Should you use hydroquinone during pregnancy?

It is safer to take precaution and do away with hydroquinone while pregnant. Pregnancy is a time when you should be careful about the things that go into your body and the things you use on your skin. This is because your unborn baby can be affected.

If you discover that you are pregnant while using this product, you should discontinue it immediately. Also, if you are actively TTC, you might need to stop using bleaching agents.

While breastfeeding, there’s a possibility of the agent coming in contact with the baby’s mouth if the mother uses it, so it is not advisable to use it even then.

Sources: BBC.Com 

U.S Food and Drug Administration

 Also Read: 8 DIY moisturiser recipes that give you naturally glowing skin

Written by

Julie Adeboye