Most people think that bleaching their skin is part of fashion or that it makes them look more beautiful. But the issue is that they do more harm than good because, long use of bleaching creams damages the kidney. Bleaching is the act of using body creams that are known as whiteners or whitening creams to gradually remove the outer layer of the skin, thereby exposing the inner skin which is fairer and more tender.
The person becomes fairer or lighter but at the detriment of his/her health because such a person puts his\her kidney and other organs of the body in danger. This is because there is high mercury content in the so called whitening creams. A considerable number of men and women in African, Southern Asia, middle East, and the Caribbean’s believe that lighter complexion shows high fashion, beauty, or prosperity.
People have been known to use lightening creams to ‘bleach’/lighten their skin complexions for years.
Celebrities and everyday folks alike have resorted to these measures without knowing the long term effects of these creams. Ivory Coast banned lightening creams (also referred to as “whitening” creams) because of the negative health effects associated with them – ranging from something as light as acne to devastating repercussions such as cancer.
Lightening creams reduce the amount of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin compared to light/fair-skinned people.
During the regime of Late Dora Akunyili of National Agency for Food and Drug Control (NAFDAC) war was waged against most of these whitening/lightening creams because they are killers. The agency regulated the quantity of the whitening agents in body creams. For instance, hydroquinone which is the most common lightening agent was reduced to two percent of any cream containing it. This regulation was made by NAFDAC to protect the life of Nigerians because there is an alarming increase in the number of cancer and kidney cases.
Most skin-lightening creams contain hydroquinone, a bleaching agent that suppresses the production of MELANIN, thus reducing the skin’s natural protection against damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and causing hazardous effect. Hydroquinone penetrates the skin and may cause irreversible damage to connective tissue. The chemical may also be cancer-causing. Other creams contain mercury, which is another toxin that penetrates the body and cause tremendous harm.
Furthermore, continuous use of such products can cause disfiguring rashes, unsightly blotches, and makes the skin so weak that it cannot be stitched if cut. And if the chemicals in some of these cosmetics are absorbed into the bloodstream, they can damage the liver, the kidneys, or the brain-even causing organ failure.
Ironically, while some dark-skinned people want to lighten their complexion, many fair-skinned people go to great length to get a deep tan to dye/darken their skins. To be sure, moderate exposure to the sun can be healthful. It can, for example enable the production of vitamin D. but extended exposure, especially when the sun is high in the sky, can be harmful. A tan, in fact, indicates that the skin has already suffered damages and is trying to protect itself from further exposure to harmful UV rays. But that protection is limited. A dark tan on fair skin, for instance, provides a sun -probation factor for a short period. While regular use of sunscreens may help, it does not provide complete protection against skin damage and certain cancers, including melanoma.
This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) maintains that everyone should be happy with their natural skin colour and maintain them. The reason is quite obvious because the lightening agents’ side effect is nothing to write home about. A dermatologist said that. “When Hydroquinone is used in doses higher than 2% over a period longer than three months, the whole skin lightening business can have some pretty negative, even paradoxical results.
Overuse of skin whiteners can also cause pigmentation to build up in your extremities (fingers, toes, ears etc), causing them to look darker and mismatched. Yet another negative reaction can develop know as the “bleach panda effect” where the skin on the face becomes thinned around the eyes and have increased pigmentation.
MAJOR NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF SKIN BLEACHING
KIDNEY DAMAGE: Skin bleach leads to neurological and kidney damage due to high level of mercury used in preparing the bleaching creams. Mercury is dangerous to body organs.
• PEELING OF OUTER SKIN LAYER: Skin bleaching creams work by reducing a pigment in the body called melanin. Skin lightening creams also include exfoliates that induce mild peeling. This is how the outermost layer peels and exposes the inner lining. Since skin tends to regenerate quickly, the fresher and lighter layers beneath are, thereby exposed to the ultraviolet rays (UV).
• BODY ODOUR: Due to the exposure of the inner layer of the skin, when the body sweats due to heat, the tender skin, oozes out offensive odour.
• UNEVENNESS OF THE SKIN COLOUR: While some part of skin bleaches to redness, some part becomes normal, some will be black especially the knuckles and ankles. The knuckles of the toes and fingers do not easily bleach.
• SKIN CANCER: The skin turn from red to a kind of burnt colour. It begins to develop sores both outside and inside, from this stage, it goes cancerous.
CHANGE OF SKIN COLOUR: The skin colour changes to dark grey with spots or patches.
Other negative effects include:
• Swelling of the skin
• Thinning of the skin
• Cataracts – due to constant contact with the eye through the palm.
• Setting down of fat on face, chest, upper back and stomach
• Increase in appetite and weight gain
• Psychiatric disorders
• Severe birth defects
• Liver damage
Some of these side effects could be seen almost immediately while some are seen after prolonged use of skin whitening creams.
NATURAL WAYS OF SKIN BLEACHING
Although skin bleaching or whitening could be a good option for getting rid of dark spots or skin discoloration, the process is not free from side effects. Some of the products are rather very harmful and cause skin cancer too. Therefore, it is very important you are informed on the side effects of skin bleaching before you opt for the whitening of your skin. There are natural ways to get a smooth, flawless toned skin
Diet – Diet is the most important part that you should take care of if you want a flawless skin. Take away all refined food products and replace them with healthy and nutritious ones.
Water – Increase your intake of water. This helps keep skin free of dehydration and so the look is healthy and unblemished.
Cleansing – Take proper care of cleaning your skin. Choose the products that are mild, natural and effective. Pay attention to exfoliating your skin from time to time so that you get rid of the dead skin.
Limes and Lemons – Citric acid is natural bleach and will help you have a lighter skin without any side effect. You can make a face mask with lime juice, few drops of glycerin and flour to make a paste. Apply this on your face and leave for 20 – 30 minutes. Wash with normal water.
Surprisingly, these whitening creams are sometimes prescribed by dermatologists in the cause of skin diseases. According to a renowned dermatologist, “for many, the battle with skin disease can be a real hurdle that must be overcome. To achieve this goal, dermatologists prescribe skin lightening medications to treat various common coetaneous diseases that lead to unevenness or discoloration. “One of the most frequent reasons patients are prescribed skin bleaching medicines is to treat post inflammatory pigmentations that can happen to anyone,.
Post inflammatory pigmentation dark spots that appear because of injury to the skin or inflammation like acne can be faded by applying the medicine to affected areas. Melasma, the appearance of discolored patches on the face, typically triggered by hormonal changes during pregnancy and by sun exposure, also responds well to skin bleaching. In many other cases, skin lightening may even help to reduce the visibility of age, spots, moles, birthmarks and scars. The usage as a medication must be for a very short period of time.
Finally since long usage of these whitening creams is destructive, use them only when they are prescribed by dermatologist as medication to treat skin diseases not as your daily body cream.