Poisoning and health risks from African Skin lightening creams and soaps
Skin-lightening creams and soaps are popular in Africa despite mercury poisoning and health risks. Psychologists say there are also underlying reasons why people bleach their skin but low self-esteem and, to some degree self-hate, are a common thread.
God, why did you make me black? I don't like being black. I don't like black skin.The World Health Organization has reported that Nigerians are the highest users of skin-lightening products: 77% of Nigerian women use the products on a regular basis.
They are followed by Togo 59%, South Africa 35%, Senegal 27%, and Mali 25% of women reported using skin lightening products on a regular basis. Studies have found that men are also beginning to bleach their skin. Some creams contain harmful steroids and other mercury.
Skin lightening products come in different forms, including soaps and creams; the soap is often sold as antiseptic soap. These products are supposed to be applied to the skin to dry overnight.
It is reported that some women use skin-lightening products for as long as 20 years. The main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage. Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring.
Until this changes, no amount of official bans or public information campaigns will stop people risking serious damage to their health in the pursuit of what they think is beauty.
Also, these products are sometimes illegally smuggled into Africa and sold at local markets in towns and villages. These soaps and creams may contain about 1-10% of mercury and just 1% of mercury levels pose a serious health hazard.
Names to look for include: