Skin bleaching refers to the use of products to lighten dark areas of the skin or achieve an overall lighter complexion. These products include bleaching creams, soaps, and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.
There is no health benefit to skin bleaching. Results aren’t guaranteed and there’s evidence that skin lightening can result in serious side effects and complications. From a medical standpoint, there’s no need to lighten the skin. But if you’re considering skin bleaching, it’s important to understand the risks.
How skin bleaching works: Skin bleaching reduces the concentration or production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. The amount of melanin in your skin is mostly determined by genetics. People with dark skin have more melanin. Hormones, sunlight, and certain chemicals also affect melanin production. When you apply a skin bleaching product to the skin, such as hydroquinone, it decreases the number of melanocytes in your skin. This can result in lighter skin and a more even appearance to the skin. A number of countries have banned the use of skin bleaching products because of the dangers associated with them. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also issued a notice that over-the-counter (OTC) skin bleaching products are not recognized as safe and effective. The products were deemed not safe for human use based on a review of evidence.
Skin bleaching has been associated with a number of adverse health effects.
- Mercury poisoning: Some skin bleaching creams made outside of the United States have been linked to mercury toxicity. Mercury has been banned as an ingredient in skin lightening products in the United States, but products made in other countries still contain mercury. In a 2014 study of 549 skin lightening creams bought online and in stores, nearly 12 percent contained mercury. About half of these products came from U.S. stores. Signs and symptoms of mercury poisoning include: numbness, high blood pressure, fatigue, sensitivity to light, and neurologic symptoms, such as tremor, memory loss, and irritability, kidney failure.
- Dermatitis: Case studies and reports have linked the use of skin bleaching products to contact dermatitis. This is inflammation of the skin caused by contact with certain substances. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include: skin redness, blisters, skin ulcers, hives, dry, scaly skin, swelling, itching, burning and tenderness
- Exogenous ochronosis: Exogenous ochronosis (EO) is a skin disorder that causes blue-black pigmentation. It usually occurs as a complication of long-term use of skin bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone. People who use it on large areas of the body or on the entire body are more likely to develop EO.
- Steroid acne: Skin bleaching creams that contain corticosteroids can cause steroid acne. Steroid acne mostly affects the chest, but can also show up on the back, arms, and other parts of the body with long-term use of corticosteroids. Symptoms can include: whiteheads and blackheads, small red bumps, large, painful red lumps, acne scars,
Bonus point – Nephrotic syndrome: Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder often caused by damage to the blood vessels in your kidneys responsible for filtering waste and excess water. It causes your body to excrete too much protein in your urine. Skin lightening creams containing mercury have been associated with nephrotic syndrome. Symptoms can include: swelling (edema) around the eyes, swollen feet and ankles, foamy urine, loss of appetite, fatigue.
Bleaching is most common with females especially with the trend to be light skinned for the gram. Please remember to see a doctor should you notice any of the signs listed. Quit bleaching today! Visit theboxshowafrica for more information.