December 12, 2021 What Are The Benefits Of Cysteamine For Melasma?
If you want to clear up your melasma, you may be wondering whether cysteamine could help address your symptoms. What are the benefits of cysteamine, and is it right for you? Read on to learn more!
How does cysteamine treat melasma?
Cysteamine-based creams are topical treatments applied to areas of skin discoloration caused by melasma and other skin conditions. Cysteamine hydrochloride creams help reduce the appearance of dark spots and brown patches by preventing the production of melanin, a biological pigment.
Cysteamine is believed to interfere with melanin production in a number of ways, including:
- Inhibiting the production of enzymes needed to make melanin, such as tyrosinase and peroxidase
- Changing the cellular reactions that produce melanin by scavenging dopaquinone
- Helping to treat or remove iron and copper ions that may help cause melasma
- Boosting glutathione, a naturally occurring antioxidant, which is also being studied for its properties that help fight melasma symptoms (Sonthalia)
What are the benefits of cysteamine for melasma?
1. Effective for diminishing dark spots
Studies have consistently shown the benefits of cysteamine in visibly improving the appearance of melasma. A 40-patient trial revealed that participants using cysteamine hydrochloride cream experienced significant improvement in their melasma symptoms compared to those using a placebo (Grimes).
Another study involved 50 patients using a 5% cysteamine cream over four months. Participants used the cream every day before bed, and their Melasma Area Severity Index (MASI) scores were measured to track progress. At the end of the 16-week period, those using cysteamine cream had significantly improved MASI scores as compared to those who were given a placebo (Mansouri).
2. Available over-the-counter (OTC)
In September 2020, the CARES act re-categorized some medications including hydroquinone, which is considered the “gold standard” depigmenting agent for treating melasma. Previously, hydroquinone was available OTC in low concentrations. However, due to health concerns related to improper use as an all-over skin lightener, it is now only available by prescription.
Those who found success in treating their melasma with OTC hydroquinone products may be frustrated at the idea of having to seek a prescription. Fortunately, cysteamine cream is an effective yet gentle alternative for those looking for a nonprescription solution for their melasma.
3. Safe for long-term use
One of the biggest benefits of cysteamine is its suitability for long-term use. Many other melasma treatments make skin more sensitive to sunlight; however, cysteamine cream is a safe treatment regardless of sunlight intensity. (It is important to note that even though cysteamine does not increase skin sensitivity to sunlight, taking measures to protect skin from the sun can help prevent further development of melasma symptoms.)
Cysteamine has few side effects or contraindications, including:
- People with vitiligo or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use cysteamine
- A temporary burning sensation that can last up to 30 minutes after application
- Skin at the application area can be prone to dryness or irritation, which can be treated with a moisturizer
4. Easy to use
Cysteamine hydrochloride creams should be applied directly to skin with discoloration. After 15 minutes, wash the application area with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. A skin-softening moisturizer should be applied once skin is dry.
You should be sure to avoid using irritating skin care products containing acids or tretinoin immediately after application to keep skin healthy.
5. Fast and long-lasting results
To lessen the appearance of melasma, cysteamine cream is applied to areas of concern each day. Most people see improvement after 6 weeks of daily use. Generally, optimal results are reached in 8-12 weeks.
Once optimal results are achieved, you can continue to use cysteamine cream as a regular part of your skincare routine. Incorporating cysteamine into your self-care twice a week can help prevent dark spots and brown patches from returning.
Experience The Benefits Of Cysteamine With Cyspera
If you are looking for an OTC solution to your melasma concerns, consider Cyspera Intensive Pigment Corrector. It is the first and only topical cream containing cysteamine hydrochloride aimed at improving melasma symptoms. Cyspera improves the appearance of dark spots and brown patches on the skin. It also helps prevent recurrence of skin discoloration with long term use.
ClearifiRx was founded by board-certified dermatologists, and all of our products are formulas we use with our own families. We are excited to offer professional, accessible dermatological solutions. If you need an OTC treatment for your melasma, try Cyspera Intensive Pigment Corrector.
- Grimes PE, Ijaz S, Nashawati R, Kwak D. New oral and topical approaches for the treatment of melasma. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2018;5(1):30-36. Published 2018 Nov 20. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2018.09.004
- Mansouri P, Farshi S, Hashemi Z, Kasraee B. Evaluation of the efficacy of cysteamine 5% cream in the treatment of epidermal melasma: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2015 Jul;173(1):209-17. doi: 10.1111/bjd.13424. Epub 2015 May 29. PMID: 25251767.
- Sonthalia S, Jha AK, Lallas A, Jain G, Jakhar D. Glutathione for skin lightening: a regnant myth or evidence-based verity? Dermatol Pract Concept. 2018;8(1):15-21. Published 2018 Jan 31. doi:10.5826/dpc.0801a04
About the author
Brandon Kirsch, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in clinical drug development and medical innovation. He is the founder of Kirsch Dermatology in Naples, Florida and is also the Chief of Dermatology at the ...