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Skin Care and Diseases

Lightening skin

02/08/2006

Question:

Please advise, I am an asian female of 25 years. I had severe acne for 12 years and only now has it reduced. It has left me with dark skin. I am using lemon juice on my face to get rid of the oilyness (which is working) and also to lighten the skin. Will this method cause any damage to the skin? Will it mean when I stop using the lemon my skin will turn dark again? Could it go darker than before? Thank you.

Answer:

I am glad to hear that your acne is coming under control.  What you are describing is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which is associated with deposition of pigment into the middle and deeper portions of the skin.  Discoloration tends to be long-lasting and does not respond well to any form of treatment.  Uses of sunscreens might allow your skin to become lighter but the use of bleaching agents such as Hydroquinone will probably not accomplish what you are looking for.  I know of no studies indicating the efficacy of lemon juice in skin care.  The only damage it might cause is irritate your skin further which might darken some areas.

I would urge you to see a board certified dermatologist to completely evaluate your skin color problems.  There may be medications or techniques that would minimize the discoloration.  In the meantime, you might review the use of cosmetics to minimize the discoloration.  There are many brands on the market that can be waterproofed and can match your normal skin color without appearing to be "caked on".

Good luck!

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati