Just like jerry curls in the 80s, skin bleaching or skin whitening is now trendy all over the universe. The history of skin bleaching can be traced back to the Elizabethan times when people strived to achieve a pale white skin complexion to symbolize beauty and social class.
The skin is anatomically the largest organ of the body and it is the main beautifier of a living being. The skin is unique in its own way. It has a total area of about 2 square metres. Its functions include; it protects the internal organs from invasion of microbes, regulate body temperature and also permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold. The skin is known to consist of 3 layers, including epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The skin’s colour is determined by melanocytes, which are special cells that produce the pigment melanin. Melanin is the body’s natural protection against the harmful effects of Ultra violent rays.
Skin bleaching is usually done to obtain a more even skin tone and also to lighten any sun damaged and age spots. Skin whitening/ bleaching treatments work by reducing the content of melanin of the skin. There are many chemical products in the market now that perform this sole purpose. However, if these products are used for a prolonged period of time, they cause havoc to their skin.
Most skin bleaching products are made of hydroquinine, mercury and steroids. Hydroquinine is cytotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. It also increase the risk of complications such as thyroid disorders, adrenal dysfunction and liver disease. Mercury, on the other hand, is readily absorbed into the body and is not easily removed thereby causing scarring, skin rashes, and skin discoloration. Long term exposure to mercury can cause severe health consequences. Steroids in the cream causes thinner skin and visible appearance of green veins in the skin.
Dangers associated with skin bleaching include the following health problems:
1. Skin Cancer
One of the dangers associated with skin bleaching is skin cancer. The melanin pigment produced by the melanocytes help to protects the skin against the harmful carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This explains why the blacks have a lower risk of skin cancer than the whites. Mercury in bleaching products has been found to be carcinogenic, hence, individuals who bleach are more likely to develop skin cancer.
MOST SKIN BLEACHING PRODUCTS ARE MADE OF HYDROQUININE, MERCURY AND STEROIDS.
2. Premature ageing
This inevitably top the list of dangers associated with skin bleaching. Hydroquinone in skin bleaching products block melanin production by the epidermis, making the skin to become lighter and thinner. This chemical react with ultraviolet rays, becomes oxidized and then cause unsightly pigmentations on the skin. Hydroquinone may also disrupt the collagen fibres which constitute the connective tissue of the skin leading to a wrinkled skin.
HYDROQUININE IS CYTOTOXIC, MUTAGENIC AND CARCINOGENIC.
3. Mercury poisoning
Mercury intoxication or poisoning can actually result from absorption through the skin. If the bleaching cream you use contains high levels of mercury, there is high risk of mercury poisoning. It is worthwhile to know that mercury poisoning has some fatal irreversible effects on the brain such as numbness or tingling sensation on the extremities, tremors, dysarthria (inability to articulate words) and ataxia (loss of balance or coordination).
4. Thining of the skin
This is an effect of the steroids uses in the bleaching agents. There will be severe bruising, exposed veins, stretch marks and other serious skin problems.
HYDROQUINONE MAY ALSO DISRUPT THE COLLAGEN FIBRES WHICH CONSTITUTE THE CONNECTIVE TISSUE OF THE SKIN LEADING TO A WRINKLED SKIN.
Hydroquinone is a caustic substance and hard substance on the skin which result in skin irritations like rash, redness, dryness, peeling of the skin, and burning.
There are other health challenges aside cosmetology aspect that result from the use of skin whitening products. As explained above, these products contain harmful substances that disrupt the physiological state of the largest organ of the body- the skin.
It is advisable to love yourself the way you are. Opting for a bleaching agent explains that you have a low self esteem about how you feel. Try to build up your self esteem and take good care of your skin because you are beautiful just the way you are.
Still interested in toning up? You can opt for natural remedies that are safer and cheaper. You can make use of readily available substances like milk, honey, tomato, oatmeal and lemon.