If you wish your skin were lighter than it is, you probably should keep that idea to yourself; it can be a sensitive topic to bring up, even among friends.
People around the world spend billions on skin-whitening treatments, however.
If you do wish to lighten your skin or get rid of dark patches around the eyes, the hands and feet, the armpits and other areas prone to high pigmentation, you do have a right to your choices.
If you’ve been trying hydroquinone, lemon juice, bleaching creams and other powerful lightening substances without much effect, you are likely to have noticed advertisements for intravenous glutathione (pronounced glue-ta-THY-own) around the internet.
If you’re curious about glutathione, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a peptide, an antioxidant that is often called the most powerful in existence.
Naturally produced in the liver, it makes crucial contributions to healthy liver function, heart function, the ability of the body to process protein and detoxify.
Some natural foods contain it, including dairy products, broccoli, and other vegetables; there are various supplements on the market, as well.
Glutathione has an additional effect: it lightens the skin.
The cysteine in glutathione can inhibit production of the tyrosinase enzyme that is responsible for melanin pigmentation.
If your body doesn’t produce enough glutathione on its own, then taking external supplies can help. Intravenous glutathione is even more powerful.
Before you turn to glutathione injections, it would make sense to try a high dose of the oral glutathione supplement at first. A 2,000-mg glutathione dose recommended for skin whitening can take up to four months to show results.
There are topical creams available, as well, and they work faster than oral supplements. Combining the pills with cream can achieve a reasonable effect, but intravenous use will yield the most dramatic results.
Do Glutathione Injections Lighten The Skin?
There are no large-scale studies to show how well glutathione works, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence.
It’s the reason that some dermatologists and skin clinics do offer these injections as skin whiteners.
Unlike bleaching products, the effects of glutathione tend to be gradual and natural. It can work on the face and the entire body.
Intravenous glutathione acts as a skin lightener by targeting two separate skin pigmentation mechanisms.
First, glutathione inhibits production of the eumelanin pigment at the lowest layer of the epidermis.
Over time, it boosts the production of pheomelanin, the skin pigment in people of fair complexions.
Glutathione works in ways that bleach or creams can’t.
Since the process works from the inside out, effects can take about 12 weeks to show.
The changes seen are not permanent, however; the results last as long as you receive the injections.
Once you quit monthly injections, the skin can return to its original color within months.
These injections cost around $100 a dose, which is often the only hurdle to adoption of this approach.
What About The Side Effects?
While there have been no large-scale studies on the effectiveness or safety of glutathione, there have been reports and warnings about potential ill effects, including kidney failure.
Expert dermatologists who do administer glutathione off-label for skin-whitening purposes, however, believe that adverse effects come about only when the patient gets their treatment from someone without training in dermatology or giving intravenous drugs.
It may be a challenge finding a qualified dermatologist who does administer such off-label glutathione prescriptions.
It can take some work finding one. It can be work that pays off, however.