Dangers of skin bleaching

I stopped over at the supermarket to get my cream. It happens that I couldn't find the exact one so the lady in charge of the section started suggesting new ones. She recommended some and asked me severally if I wanted to tone my skin before she showed me an awesome moisturizer which doesn't tone. This made me realize that there is a big misconception about beauty and what it stands for. Skin bleaching has become the norm in the society as the standard of beauty has regrettably dropped.

Skin bleaching is the practice of using substances,mixtures or chemicals to lighten skin color. This works by reducing the melanin of the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color,  it provides some protection again skin damage from the sun. Highlighted below are some hazards you are probably exposing yourself to when you bleach your skin.

1. Premature ageing Hydroquinone- and mercury-containing skin products work by blocking melanin production by the basal layer of the epidermis of the skin. Since melanin is the pigment responsible for the dark colour of the skin, such skin becomes lighter. With prolonged use, however, these chemicals react with ultraviolet rays, become oxidized and then cause unsightly pigmentation on the skin. Furthermore, hydroquinone may disrupt the collagen fibres which constitute the connective tissue of the skin and the outcome is a spotty, wrinkled skin.

2. Skin Cancer It is a well-known fact that the melanin pigment of the black skin protects against the harmful carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun and this explains why black people have a lower risk of skin cancer than the whites. However, individuals that bleach their black skin colour have lost the privilege of this protection and consequently expose themselves to skin cancer. In addition, the mercury content of many bleaching creams has also been shown to be carcinogenic.

3. Mercury poisoning It can result from mercury inhalation, ingestion, injection or absorption through the skin. Bad news is most bleaching cream contains high levels of mercury. More unfortunate is the fact that mercury poisoning has some fatal effects on the brain that are quite difficult to reverse such as tremors, ataxia (loss of balance or coordination), dysarthria (inability to articulate words) and numbness or tingling sensation on the extremities.

4. Proneness to skin injuries Most skin lighteners contain steroids. The prolonged use of these lighteners hampers skin health and leads to skin atrophy, a condition in which skin thickness is appreciably reduced. Such light-skinned individuals are more prone to skin injuries such as bruises, abrasions and cuts. Striae (abnormal streaks or lines, simply put-stretch marks) are often noticed on bleached skin and believe me, they are not good to look at!

5. High Blood Sugar High blood sugar can result from regular use of skin lightening creams that contain high levels of steroids. High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, and using skin whitening creams that elevate blood sugar can be dangerous if you already have diabetes.

6. Damage to internal organs Continuous use of  skin-lightening creams may not be in the best interest of your internal organs especially your kidneys, liver and brain. Heavy metals such as mercury are known to cause severe organ damage. In large doses, the liver and brain may not be spared as well.

I get the fact that you want a glowing skin, or probably you just want to get rid of some dark spots and skin irregularities, but, skin bleaching isn't the way to go. What profit is there for one who gains a white skin and loses his life to avoidable diseases? (Don't quote me)

Keep that melanin, it saves live!


Writer at The Healthwise...daily health tips