How Bleaching Creams Can Cause Cancer, Kidney Disease  –Dermatologist

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How Bleaching Creams Can Cause Cancer, Kidney Disease  –Dermatologist

A Consultant Dermatologist and Venereologist at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Irrua, Edo State, Dr. Sebastine Oiwoh, has warned against the use of bleaching creams, saying they could lead to diabetes, cataracts, viral infections chronic kidney disease and cancer.

The dermatologist cautioned that beyond having negative effects on the skin, bleaching creams could damage internal organs.

Dr. Oiwoh disclosed this during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise and reminded users and intending users to know that what they apply on the skin also finds its way into the bloodstream.

The skin expert said people should do away with the erroneous impression that what is applied to the skin doesn’t get to the bloodstream.

According to him, Nigerians should appreciate that being dark-complexioned is not a mark of inferiority.

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Dr. Oiwoh pointed out that melanin (black pigment in the skin) is the shield that protects the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Further giving insight into the damaging effects of bleaching creams, the dermatologist said, “The effects of the skin lightening products vary per entity or as a combination depending on the constituents of the products.

He said, “They wipe off the organisms that serve as soldiers to the skin, leaving it naked and unprotected from many skin infections among which we are scabies, fungal infections of the skin and viral infections (warts in the skin), among others.

“They can also cause stretch marks that are usually ugly looking, wider and deeper than those caused by other factors like obesity.

“The skin gets thinner over time, making it easy to be bruised, have poor wound healing, and prominent dilated veins on the body (telangiectasias).

“The skin can have varying colourations (dyschromia). This can be from the disposition of some chemical substances in the deeper layer of the skin (the dermis). This is called exogenous ochronosis. It may also be from the aftermath of the varying skin infections/inflammations (that is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).”

Dr.Oiwoh revealed that the use of bleaching creams could trigger the growth of thin hair on the skin and the eruption of pimples on the face.

The dermatologist also noted that the products could also cause skin cancer, stressing that the burns caused on the face by bleaching creams might be difficult to reverse.

“Skin cancer occurs as there is unprotected access to ultraviolet rays into the skin with subsequent burns, sun damage and sun-induced change of the skin cells to cancerous types.

“The damaging effects of skin lightening products in the body can cause damage to the kidneys (chronic kidney diseases), adrenals (Cushing syndrome), blood vessels  (systemic hypertension), diabetes mellitus, cataracts and others,” he added.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, overusing skin-bleaching products can cause irreversible skin damage, and the skin might not return to its original condition even after the individual has stopped.

Experts say processes of skin-lightening have a lot of health risks attached to them, warning that almost all bleaching products are composed of either three active ingredients that include Mercury, Hydroquinone or various corticosteroids.

Dr. Oiwoh emphasised that the use of bleaching creams should be discouraged and urged Nigerians to appreciate their skin colour, which he described as their identity.

According to data from a recent study carried out by Cable News Network, women from Nigeria were the highest consumers of skin-whitening creams ahead of four other African countries.

CNN was investigating skin whitening practices worldwide as part of a series titled ‘White Lies’.

The study showed that 75 per cent of Nigerian women patronise whitening products, while Senegal had 60 per cent, Mali 50 per cent and Ghana had 30 per cent.

On ways to maintain a healthy skin colour, the dermatologist counselled, “We can maintain a very beautiful, lovely, attractive skin colour without bleaching our skin by eating a balanced diet, regular intake of fruits and vegetables, adequate rest and engaging in regular exercise.

“The youths should also be very careful of what they apply on their skin because it is not all that glitters that is gold, as it could just be the rust some consider as the golden colour.

“The use of sunscreen to protect our skin from sun damage is indispensable. Adequate and regular use is also important as many don’t use anything near what the body needs.

“It must also be reiterated that when getting sunscreens, it has to be sunscreen only and not skin lightening products mixed with sunscreen.”

The dermatologist also advised Nigerians to as a matter of best skin health practices, consult their dermatologist for any questions or complaints that bother on skincare, care of the hair and nails.

According to him, such a specialist will also be in the best position to offer the best care for medically indicated reasons for dark colourations on the skin.

In a 2014 Article titled, ‘Skin bleaching: A neglected form of injury and threat to global skin’, published in the African Safety Promotion Journal, the authors from the Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, USA, said numerous potentially life-threatening consequences of skin bleaching have been identified.

According to them, skin bleaching can lead to fragile skin, poor wound healing and scarring. Other more serious health risks include hypertension, diabetes, infertility, leukaemia (blood cancer), skin cancer, foetal toxicity (foetal poisoning), immunosuppression (suppression of a healthy immune response), renal and liver impairment or failure”, they added.


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