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Aesthetics Practice Today

“Bleaching” an Outdated Term

Published December 17, 2013 10:04 AM by Kimberly Cray
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 terminology.

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!

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    Occupation: Physician Assistant/Nurse Practitioner
    Setting: Miami & Upland, Calif.
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