Perhaps in all areas we have progressed as humans, but when the focus falls on beauty we are still quite lacking. This society’s mindset that being beautiful means having fair skin regardless of the consequences has caused immense challenges for dermatologists.
To thoroughly understand what consequences I am talking about, keep scrolling!
The epidemic of skin bleaching:
Skin bleaching isn’t only happening in African communities. We’re seeing it to be used more often in Southeast Asia.
As a cosmetic procedure, it aims to achieve a generally paler skin tone
by reducing the concentration or production of melanin in the skin. There are reasons whyPerhaps melanin exists, and one of them is sun protection so suppressing its function comes with a baggage of risks you should consider.
How does skin bleaching work?
The main techniques used to lighten the skin include:
- Skin-lightening creams
- Laser treatment
Trying a skin-lightening procedure is a major decision. It can be expensive, time-consuming, and the results cannot be guaranteed. It’s a good idea to discuss your plans with a GP first. They might talk to you about your reasons for wanting to lighten your skin, and there might be a medical reason why the procedure is not appropriate for you.
Powerful skin-lightening creams contain:
- Corticosteroids (steroid medicine), such as hydrocortisone
- Illegally mercury
The FDA banned the sale of over-the-counter hydroquinone products in 2020, but many remain on the market online and in shops. The FDA has launched an initiative warning about over-the-counter skin-lightening products after receiving reports of side effects.
Things that could go wrong:
Possible risks of skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone, corticosteroids or mercury include:
- Skin turning dark or too light
- Thinning of the skin
- Visible blood vessels in the skin
- Kidney, liver or nerve damage
- Abnormalities in a newborn baby (if used during pregnancy)
If you’re prescribed skin-lightening cream by a doctor, they should tell you about the potential risks and how common these are.
About the Author: Dr. Donika Vata is a medical doctor from Ferizaj, Kosovo. She studied general medicine from University of Hasan Prishtina.
Dr. Vata has been writing about medical and skincare related issue in journals, social media websites, and books. She was working for some well reputed clinics such as Telehealth Pro- Online consultations, German Cancer Center, and AppLMD. Dr. Donika was also volunteering in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, she is working as a medical doctor and researcher in a dermatology clinic.