Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Top five skin bleaching African countries

Creams and injectable skin whitening products are popular in Africa despite the health risks, 77 percent of Nigerians use skin whitening products.

Skin-lightening creams and injections work by reducing or deactivating the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce melanin in the skin.

Nigerians are the highest users of skin-lightening products

Top five skin bleaching African countries fading dark skin to light skin on a regular basis.

77% of Nigerians

59% of Togolese

35% of South Africans

27% of Senegalese

25% of Malian from Mali

The World Health Organization has reported that Nigerians are the highest users of skin-lightening products; 77% of Nigerians skin bleaching products on a regular basis followed by Togo 59%, South Africans 35%, Senegalese 27%, and Malian 25%. Studies have found that men are also bleaching their skin. Some creams contain harmful steroids and other mercury.

Mercury is a common ingredient found in skin lightening soaps and creams. Mercury salts inhibit the formation of melanin, resulting in a lighter skin tone. Skin lightening soaps and creams are commonly used in certain African among dark-skinned populations.   

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.

In shops and online injectable skin whitening products in Africa are formulated for injection into a vein or muscle or under the skin advertised to lighten the skin, correct uneven skin tone, and reduce blemishes.

Skin-lightening creams containing hydroquinone and corticosteroids have potent side effects such as skin infection, scarring, thinning of the skin, and visible blood vessels in the skin, thyroid function impairment, kidney dysfunction, and liver damage.

Intravenous glutathione treatments or glutathione IV therapy has been used throughout Asia for decades and is now becoming popular in Africa to lighten skin. While in the USA or glutathione IV therapy is used for anti-aging to reduce wrinkles and boost immunity, but in Africa the treatment is used to even skin tone and become a shade lighter.

Mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health and as a result, have been officially banned in many countries throughout Africa. However, mercury-containing skin lightening products are still widely available on the Internet.  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.

The amount or concentration of mercury in a product may be labeled on the packaging or in the ingredient list. However, companies selling products that contain mercury, do not always list it as an ingredient.  Names to look for include:

· Mercury

· Hg

· Mercuric Iodide

· Mercurous Chloride

· Ammoniated Mercury

· Amide Chloride Of Mercury

· Quicksilver

· Cinnabaris

· Mercury Sulfide

· Hydrargyri Oxydum Rubrum

· Mercury Oxide

· Mercury Iodide

· May Say Poison

Skin-lightening creams and soaps are popular in Africa despite mercury poisoning health risks.

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