Rationale of using hypopigmenting drugs and their clinical application in melasma

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Among the pigmentary disorders, melasma is the prototype disorder characterized by hyperpigmentation. Although, conventionally, triple combination creams are used, there is a need for alternatives to hydroquinone as the drug has restrictions on its widespread use. This needs an understanding of the steps involved in the melanogenesis and the drugs that inhibit the key steps. The data on in vitro inhibition need to be then translated into clinical in vivo results, before a rationale compounded fixed drug preparation is marketed that inhibits the major steps in the pigmentation pathway. There is also a need to look for drugs that are superior to hydroquinone, as only then will they have a meaningful clinical utility. For now, a few drugs like deoxyarbutin, ellagic acid, dioic acid, n-butylresorcinol and azelaic acid have such properties in clinical trials, while metformin is a recent addition.

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