Skin bleaching can result in cancer, diabetes, other complications -Dermatologist

Chief Consultant Dermatologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr Olarewanju Falodun, has cautioned Nigerians against skin bleaching, saying it may result in health disorders associated with cancer, diabetes and other complications.

Falodun gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday, noting that the composition of some skin-lightening products may have dire consequences on the entire body.

NAN recalls that the Senate on February 18 directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to regulate the importation, formulation and sale of cosmetics within Nigeria, especially skin bleaching products.

Skin bleaching refers to the use of products to lighten dark areas of the skin or achieve an overall lighter complexion through the use of creams, soaps and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.

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Some people apply skin lightener to their entire body to change their complexion, which experts say can be very risky, as the active ingredient in some skin lighteners is mercury, a toxic agent that can cause serious psychiatric, neurological and kidney problems.

According to the consultant dermatologist, some of the products also contain chemicals such as hydroquinone, steroids, kojic acid and others, and their long-term use may be hazardous to the skin.

Falodun explained that continuous use of creams with such contents would make the topmost layer of the skin to thin out, wrinkle, become irritable and may lead to poor healing of wounds.

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While emphasising that skin bleaching has no health benefit, the expert said, “Some of these bleaching agents, on their own, can actually lead to other problems.

“Some of them contain mercury that can lead to kidney problem, kidney failure and nephrotic syndrome – a kidney disorder that causes the body to excrete too much protein in the urine.

“If you use steroid also for a long period, it can affect the bloodstream and the blood sugar, and can result in diabetes.”

The expert, however, urged the public to seek dermatologists’ attention when facing skin problem for professional medical advice.

He said, “If anybody has acne or any skin problem that is disturbing enough, the person should see a dermatologist, who will advise on the best medication for treatment.”

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He, therefore, commended the Senate directive to NAFDAC to regulate the importation, formulation, and sale of cosmetics, especially bleaching cream within Nigeria due to its harmful effects on users.

He advised that people should remain as natural as possible, eat and rest well, and consume lots of water to maintain healthy and glowing skin.


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