The trend of skin bleaching is one that might not end soon due to the increased rate of people bleaching their skin. Sometimes it is given a suitable name and instead of it being called bleaching, it is called skin lightening.
Skin bleaching is the act of changing the colour of one’s skin and it is mostly done by people with dark complexion.
Dark people bleach their skin so they will have a lighter complexion and this is done using creams, soaps, pills and what have you.
There are various reasons dark people bleach their skin but most times, it is because they feel a light skin will make them more beautiful and more attractive forgetting that bleaching causes harm to the skin, and most times bleaching of the skin is done by women. Some black women have been so intimidated by their skin colour to the extent of putting the lives of their unborn babies in danger all in a bid to lighten the skin colour of their unborn babies when they are finally conceived.
In 2018, the Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority(FDA) disclosed that some pregnant women were going as far as taking some banned products just so the babies in their womb will have a light skin tone and this practice poses as a danger to the health of the unborn babies. In 2019, South Sudan’s Drugs and Food Control Authority (DFCA) put a ban on the importation of bleaching creams due to the hazard it causes. Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are other countries that have also banned the importation of bleaching creams.
Some women bleach because they want to feel among or because their partners would want them to get fair while some bleach their skin as a result of inferiority complex. People also use bleaching cream to cover up an embarrassing spot or scar that has been on the body for too long.
Before you use a bleaching cream, you should consider the cons as there are so many side effects of bleaching your skin which we are going to look at. When you try to change the colour of your skin, you reduce the production of melanin in the skin.
The skin has cells called melanocytes which are responsible for production of melanin and it is this melanin that gives colour to the skin.
What are the side effects of bleaching the skin?
When you bleach your skin, you are at risk of having different skin conditions which include steriod acne, mercury poisoning, exogenous ochronosis, contact dermatitis, etc.
1. Mercury Poisoning:
Mercury is a toxic metal present in food and in some products. Some of these products might have the aim of clearing spots on the body but then, some people buy them not to treat a condition but to lighten their skin. Other names for mercury include: mercury iodide, phenyl mercuric salts, calomel, mercurio, mercury oxide and mercurous chloride so if you see any of these in a product then you should know that using that product for long might result to your skin getting bleached. People with long term usage of mercury product may suffer anxiety, skin rashes and depression. Adults with higher stage of mercury poisoning may experience the following:
Change in vision
Speech difficulties and walking difficulties.
Mercury poisoning does not affect adults alone, a pregnant woman rubbing bleaching cream can be causing a great disaster to the health of the uborn child in her womb, the following are some effects bleaching cream may have on her foetus when he is born:
Delay in speech development
Lack of fine motor skills
Symptoms of mercury poisoning include:
Vision or hearing changes
Sensitivity to light
High Blood Pressure
If you ignore the side effects of bleaching on your skin, you should consider what it would do on your child’s skin and health when they come into this world. I am sure you would not want your child to have difficulties in learning while he is growing up. You should also know that there is no cure for mercury poisoning so it is better you prevent it.
2. Steriod Acne
Steriod Acne occurs when a bleaching cream has corticosteroids. Corticosteroid especially prednisone causes steriod acne. Steriod acne does not appear immediately one starts using a bleaching cream, it takes several weeks to appear. It can come in form of comedones, pustules or nodules. Steriod acne can cause insomnia and fatigue. Creams with topical corticosteroid are recommended for treatment and after the treatment, they are meant to be discarded instead of being used on the skin, an example of such cream is Funbact A. Funbact A has a steriod called betamethasone. Steriod acne is not the only condition people who abuse creams with corticosteroid may experience, a misuse of such creams could also cause adrenal insufficiency(a condition where the adrenal glands are unable to make enough amount of hormone cortisol), skin thickening and perioral dermatitis.
What Are The Symptoms of Steriod acne?
The symptoms of steriod acne include:
3. Contact Dermatitis:
Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy and non contagious rash which comes as a reaction when you come in contact with certain substance.
Some symptoms of Contact dermatitis include:
4. Exogenous Ochronosis:
This is a skin condition that brings blue-black pigmentation, it occurs when there is an exposure to mercury, picric acid, benzene and hydroquinone. Exogenous ochronosis takes place when you over use a skin lightening cream that contains phenol, hydroquinone or resorcinol. Other names for hydroquinone are quinol, tequinol, hydrochinonium, benzene-1, 4-diol and p-Diphenol. So a product which has any of these names can make you have exogenous ochronosis if used for long. It occurs in the face and the discolouration can be permanent. People who have exogenous ochronosis will notice that that their earwax has become or is becoming reddish brown. The places the change of skin colour occurs are on the cheeks, forehead, armpits, and genital areas. The change in skin colour occurs in areas that are exposed to the sun and places where you sweat most. Exogenous ochronosis occurs in three stages. In the first stage there is a mild hyper pigmentation, in the second stage, the hyper pigmentation progresses and in the third stage there is either a darkening of the skin, large black papules or larger dark papules . Exogenous Ochronosis only affects the skin, it does not affect the health of the person and it is also not hereditary. Though there is an hereditary ochronosis, this particular type of ochronosis is not hereditary.
5. Nephrotic Syndrome:
Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney problem that is caused by damage of the blood vessels in the kidney. This condition makes the body burn out much protein.
Symptoms of Nephrotic Syndrome include:
High protein in the urine
Loss of appetite
Fatigue and kidney failure.
6. Liver Failure:
Liver failure is one of the side effects of bleaching cream on your skin. It starts from damage of the liver and eventually leads to its failure.
7. Endocrine problems like Cushings disease can also be a sided effect of the use of bleaching creams.
8. Osteporosis: This is a situation where the bones get so thin and frail.
9. Body Odour
Ever noticed that some people who bleach their skin start having a rotten fish smell all of a sudden?, this is exactly what bleaching cream can do to some people. Bleaching cream causes someone to have a rotten fish smell. When you excessively use a cream that has hydroquinone and then go ahead to eat certain kinds of food, the combination of the hydroquinone and some foods can result to a fish like smell.
Some people use gluthathronic pills and injections instead of bleaching creams but this does not stop the fact that all of these have side effects on the skin.
Black is beautiful so having a dark complexion should be a thing to brag about. People who bleach their skin forget that their skin could be disfigured just with a little bite or scratch and moreso, bleaching creams could make one start having different kinds of colour on their body aside the skin discolouration discussed in exogenous ochronosis. Sometimes you discover that instead of one to bleach completely, one starts having different skin colours on different parts of the body.
As stated earlier on, some of these bleaching creams and products containing some harmful substance such as mercury has been banned in some countries due to their effect on the body.
For mercury poisoning, while discarding the cream or product it should be discarded properly and not exposed to the air as it could be harmful to people.
It is understandable that some bleaching could be as a result of treatment and that is why it is advisable that after the condition for which the product was bought has gone, the usage of the cream stops immediately because most times, it is a prolonged usage of these creams that results to these skin conditions and health issues that have just been mentioned above.