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Six harms bleaching does to your skin, health

Who says black isn’t beautiful? Perhaps many people think beauty is inherent in light complexion and that once the skin is not fair, one is…

Who says black isn’t beautiful? Perhaps many people think beauty is inherent in light complexion and that once the skin is not fair, one is not beautiful.

Some people go the extra mile to bleach their skin with different products just to attain the ‘fairness status’ and look good. Skin bleaching is the use of products to lighten dark areas of the skin or achieve an overall light complexion.

The lure for lighter skin tone has driven many to resort to different types of procedures ranging from bleaching creams, soaps, and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.

Research has shown that there is no health benefit to skin bleaching. Results aren’t guaranteed and there’s evidence that skin lightening can result in serious side effects and complications. Almost all bleaching products are composed of either of three active ingredients: mercury, hydroquinone, or various corticosteroids and these components when used without prescription from a dermatologist or doctor might have serious effects on the skin.

In the light of the World Skin Health Day which holds on “any date”in 2022 and aims to recognise and promote skin health around the globe, Daily Trust takes a look at six harms bleaching can inflict on the skin and overall human health.

Body odour

According to a study conducted by African researchers in 2008, body odour is one of the common complications of skin bleaching.

The study revealed that prolonged application of skin bleaching creams will over time give the body a distinctive bad odour, resembling the smell of rotten fish.

Nephrotic syndrome

This is a kidney disorder often caused by damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys which are responsible for filtering waste and excess water.

Skin lightening creams containing mercury have been associated with nephrotic syndrome. Symptoms include swelling (edema) around the eyes, swollen feet and ankles, foamy urine, loss of appetite and fatigue.

Mercury poisoning

According to health line, most bleaching has been linked to mercury toxicity. Mercury has been banned as an ingredient in skin lightening products in some countries such as the United States, but products made in other countries still contain mercury.

Mercury can cause numbness, high blood pressure, fatigue, sensitivity to light, neurologic symptoms, such as tremor, memory loss, and irritability kidney failure.


This is inflammation of the skin caused by contact with certain substances. Case studies and reports have linked the use of skin bleaching products to dermatitis.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include skin redness, skin ulcers, blisters, swellings, burning and tenderness, dry scaly skin and itching.

Steroid acne

Skin bleaching creams that contain corticosteroids can cause steroid acne which mostly affects the chest, but can also show up on the back, arms, and other parts of the body with long-term use of corticosteroids. Symptoms can include whiteheads and blackheads, small red bumps large, painful red lumps and acne scars.

Exogenous ochronosis

This is a skin disorder that causes blue-black pigmentation. It usually occurs as a complication of long-term use of skin bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone.

Everyone wants to look beautiful but achieving it through ideal means is the best form of beauty one can ever attain. Say no to skin bleaching.

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