What Is Cysteamine And How Can It Treat Melasma?

What Is Cysteamine And How Can It Treat Melasma?

If you have been researching solutions to address your melasma concerns, you may have heard about cysteamine. Why use cysteamine for melasma? Are there any side effects? Keep reading to learn whether or not cysteamine cream treatments for melasma are right for you.

What is cysteamine and how does it work?

Cysteamine is a lightening agent used to treat melasma, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, or lentigines. The dark spots and brown patches resulting from these conditions can be persistent and difficult to treat.

Cysteamine hydrochloride works by preventing the production of melanin, a biological pigment. It achieves this by inhibiting the production of enzymes necessary to make melanin, like tyrosinase and peroxidase. It may also reduce melanin production through scavenging of dopaquinone- interfering in the cellular reactions that normally produce melanin.

Cysteamine for melasma is believed to help treat or remove iron and copper ions that may contribute to melasma symptoms. It may also boost glutathione within cells, a naturally-occurring antioxidant that is also being studied as a treatment for melasma (Sonthalia).

Topical creams containing cysteamine hydrochloride are applied directly to melasma-affected skin. The cream is generally left on for approximately 15 minutes and then gently washed off. Experts also recommend that you use a moisturizer after treatments to help prevent skin irritation.

Why use cysteamine for melasma?

Multiple studies have revealed the benefits of using cysteamine cream to treat melasma. One trial involving 40 patients revealed substantial improvement in melasma as compared to subjects using a placebo (Grimes).

Another study had 50 patients use a 5% melasma cream over a 16-week period. Participants applied the cream once a day at bedtime during the four-month study. Patients who used the medicated cream had much lower Melasma Area Severity Index (MASI) scores than those using a placebo (Mansouri).

Unlike formulas containing hydroquinone or higher-concentration retinols, you do not need a prescription to use cysteamine hydrochloride to address your melasma concerns. Improvement may be visible in as little as 6 weeks, with optimal results typically being reached in 8-12 weeks. Once the desired results are achieved, cysteamine can become part of your skincare routine twice a week to prevent dark spots or brown patches from returning.

Cysteamine cream can also help prevent recurring melasma symptoms, as it is well-suited for long term use. Unlike some other melasma treatments, cysteamine hydrochloride creams are not affected by intensity of sunlight. (Note that while cysteamine does not make skin more sensitive to sunlight, proactively protecting your skin from the sun can improve melasma symptoms overall.)

Are there any side effects when using cysteamine for melasma?

Cysteamine is generally considered a safe treatment for melasma with few contraindications or side effects. Typical side effects include burning sensations and redness in the application area, which usually subsides within a half-hour of use. Skin at the area of application can become dry or irritated, which can be addressed with a moisturizer.

For most people, cysteamine is safe enough to use both as a treatment for dark spots, as well as a regular part of your skincare routine as a prevention measure. However, those with a personal or family history of vitiligo, a depigmenting disorder, should not use cysteamine. There also has not been sufficient research to determine the effect of cysteamine on pregnancy or breast-feeding, so it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Cyspera – A Cysteamine Treatment For Melasma From ClearifiRx

Cyspera is a pigment corrector, the first and only topical cream containing cysteamine hydrochloride (HCI). This cream not only improves the appearance of dark spots, it also minimizes the recurrence of skin discoloration over time. Our formula is designed to effectively treat stubborn brown patches while being gentle on your skin. Cyspera is a simple, easy addition to your existing skincare routine that you can apply once a day for 15 minutes to address your melasma concerns.

ClearifiRx only carries products our own dermatologists use with their own families to reflect our dedication to safe and accessible skincare. We offer a wide variety of prescription and non-prescription products, including a moisturizer that can treat and prevent dry skin while using Cyspera. If you are looking for a non-prescription solution to brown patches or dark spots, consider adding Cyspera to your skincare routine.


Brandon Kirsch

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 Naples Community Hospital. Kirsch Dermatology Website Dr. Kirsch started his career as a lawyer and holds law degrees from the University of Western Ontario (LL.B.) and Georgetown (LL.M. Securities and Financial Regulation). Dr. Kirsch completed his pre-medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, medical school at Brown University, internship at the Mayo Clinic (Florida) and dermatology residency at the University of North Carolina. In partnership with the Mayo Clinic, he filed to patent a novel topical composition for the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation that he co-developed and also oversaw a successful pilot study of the formulation. Dr. Kirsch has experience with therapeutic drug development programs from pre-clinical to Phase 3 studies. He is licensed to practice medicine in California, Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina and law in New York and Ontario.

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