Monobenzone is the monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone. Monobenzone occurs as a white, almost tasteless crystalline powder, soluble in alcohol and practically insoluble in water.
The topical application of monobenzone in animals decreases the excretion of melanin from melanocytes. The same action is thought to be responsible for the depigmenting effect of the drug in humans. Monobenzone may cause destruction of melanocytes and permanent depigmentation.
The histology of the skin after depigmentation with topical monobenzone is the same as that seen in vitiligo; the epidermis is normal except for the absence of identifiable melanocytes. Therefore, monobenzone is used as a topical medicine to permanently depigment normal skin surrounding vitiliginous lesions only in patients with disseminated (greater than 50 percent of body surface area) idiopathic vitiligo.Monobenzone is also being considered for the treatment of Melanoma.
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