Usefulness of retinoic acid in the treatment of melasma

Madhu A. Pathak, Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, Eric W. Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


Melasma is a circumscribed brown macular hypermelanosis of the areas of the face and neck that are exposed to light. Clinical trials with various depigmenting formulations containing hydroquinone were conducted to determine the ideal concentration of hydroquinone, retinoic acid, and corticosteroids for the treatment of melasma. The compounds were tested with and without the concomitant use of topical sunscreen preparations. Based on the results of the trials and our earlier clinical experience, we conclude that treatment of melasma should involve the following: avoidance of sun exposure, constant use of broad-spectrum sunscreens, and topical application of a cream or lotion containing 2% hydroquinone and 0.05% to 0.1% retinoic acid (tretinoin). Patients should suspend use of oral contraceptives and other agents that promote skin pigmentation. The monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone should never be used in melasma therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-899
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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