Nigeria has one big problem and that is the use of bleaching products. Some reports claim that Nigeria has the 2nd highest number of people that use bleaching products in the world. This poses a huge problem because of the effects that follow skin bleaching. Different names have been coined to cloak the word “bleaching” from glowing, lightening, to allowing your “real colour to come out.
Initially, these products were prescribed to treat birthmarks, blemishes, dark patches, but now they are used over the counter for beauty purposes.
How Do Skin Bleaching Creams Work?
They reduce the amount of melanin in your skin, melanin is a pigment that gives your skin its colour and helps protect it from the harmful rays of the sun.
What Are The Harmful Rays?
The rays from the sun are divided into visible light, infrared rays and Ultraviolet rays.
UV rays are divided into
- UVA causes your skin to age faster, wrinkles
- UVB damages your skin causes skin cancer and even cataracts.
What Major Chemicals Should I Avoid in Skin Bleaching?
If you come across any skin bleaching or lightening product containing mercury, lead, corticosteroids or hydroquinone, please avoid it. It is worse when the manufacturers refuse to be transparent with the ingredients used. We would not advise to buy.
What Are Some Side Effects of Skin Bleaching Creams?
- Bleaching creams containing hydroquinone might lead to ochronosis, discolouration of your skin because homogentisic acid is deposited in your skin. This is permanent in many cases.
- Creams that contain mercury can lead to kidney damage because your skin absorbs what you put on it.
- Creams that contain steroids can lead to skin thinning, hypertension etc.
- If used during pregnancy, it can lead to abnormalities in your unborn baby.
- redness and swelling (skin irritation and inflammation)
- a burning or stinging sensation
- itchy and flaky skin
If your Doctor Prescribes a Skin Lightening Cream, How Do I use It?
- You need to use it with sunscreen, this helps protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Use it on the affected areas of the skin only
- Do not use for longer than is prescribed.
These are just some of the instructions that your doctor may recommend, ask further for specific instructions.
Other Things you should know:
Some beauty spas in Nigeria have adopted using Glutathione injections to lighten their skin, this prevents your skin from making melanin. Unfortunately, this practice was banned in the Philippines after the numerous complaints of kidney failures, thyroid problems, rashes, etc. This is not regulated and we do not have enough information on its effects
It is always best to speak to a licensed dermatologist about your skincare needs.