The desire for unblemished, clear skin is common in all cultures and societies, making the practice of skin lightening to minimize spots and even a skin tone in demand worldwide.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) studied the types of people who use these creams, why they use them and how well the creams work. Such information they believe could help doctors advise their patients about which creams are the safest and most effective.
In order to understand characteristics associated with the use of lightening products, researchers surveyed 406 adults with cutaneous hyperpigmentation who had been seen in a U.S.-based dermatology clinic from February 2015 through July 2016.
Information was collected about patients' demographics, use of over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription lightening products, their components and perceived benefit.
Patients also saw a board-certified dermatologist, for assessment of diagnosis, skin type, and disease severity.
The most common conditions leading to lightening cream use were melasma (brown to gray-brown patches) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Less than half reported subjective improvement in their skin tone and results were even worse for those using OTC creams: only 26.5 percent were satisfied with their results. Among those that did report improvement, the most effective agent was prescription-strength triple-combination cream.
Corresponding author Neelam Vashi said, "This primarily descriptive study highlights important aspects in those who use lightening products. More than half of our responders were not satisfied with their OTC creams, reporting that it did not improve their hyperpigmentation."
Approximately half of the sample population, all of which had cosmetically bothersome hyperpigmentation, had tried OTC lightening agents, with the vast majority consulting a clinician during the course of their treatment.
The full findings are present in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
(With ANI Inputs)