“Bleaching” an Outdated Term
A common concern among patients is treating and improving
skin tone and brown spots on the skin, particularly the face. These changes can
often be reflections of long term sun exposure or hormonal changes. We have
many options for treating such conditions; however, our go-to treatment remains
topical creams because of their effectiveness, low cost and low risk nature.
I often wonder how many times a patient has gone to a
dermatology office and been offered a "bleaching" cream. I am guilty of using
the word frequently myself. We have been using the term for years. More
recently, though, I am trying to avoid the term. My reasoning? When people hear
the term bleach thoughts of Clorox come to mind. We are not treating skin like
a soiled garment of clothing. I believe we must be more creative with our
It is almost 2014, people. Let's move beyond the term
bleaching and use words such as "brighten" or "lighten" or "remove excess
pigment." Just as we don't use straight bleach in laundry as much these days,
we don't need patients envisioning themselves leaving white spots on the skin.
I can't tell you how many patients have been given an unknown
"bleaching" cream in which they did not know the ingredients or what
mechanisms were at play to help their condition.
By simply educating and being careful with our use of the
word bleaching, we can remove a lot of the misconception that can go along with
the age old term. I do not feel that the word is the most appropriate term in
treatment of hyperpigmented skin conditions. Use it how you wish, but I urge
you to be creative and detailed in your discussion with patients for their skin
care treatment. And remember, with all the great treatments out there please
don't just throw another "bleaching" cream at them!