In order to follow this exciting discourse please track and read the previous three posts…..
THE PUBLIC HEALTH DISCOURSE: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
In response to the growing numbers of women and men using skin-bleaching creams in Africa and throughout the Diaspora, many governments have spoken out through their ministers of health to dissuade people from using the products. Often leading government officials will release a formal statement, hold a press conference, and sometimes launch a nation-wide public health campaign informing people of the dangers of the skin-bleaching products. Because these state-sponsored messages come largely from public health entities within the government or NGOs, their focus tends to be on the physical dangers of using such products. The most dangerous ingredients found in many skin-lightening products are hydroquinone, cortico-steroids, and mercury. Despite strict regulation of these chemicals in many Western nations, they are still found in many products sold throughout the world.
The most dangerous side effects of mercury, hydroquinone, and topical steroid usage include, but are not limited to, damage to the adrenal glands, kidney failure, liver failure, and skin cancer.
WHO also said skin bleaching comes with hazardous health consequences. The dangers associated with the use of toxic compounds for skin bleaching include, blood cancers such as leukemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as severe skin conditions. Prolonged use of these above mentioned products for purposes of skin bleaching has been proven to result in the prevalence of the following disorders among users: Hypertension, Diabetes, Skin and liver cancers, Kidney failure, Depression, Blindness, overweight and Obesity. When used by pregnant women, these products also result in: Stillbirths…death at birth of babies or before birth in the womb, High rates of infection among babies in the first month of birth, Low birth weight…..small for date babies and this affects the natural development of the baby.
In addition, a recent body of evidence in a systematic literature review highlighted the numerous potentially life-threatening consequences of skin bleaching identified in the literature. Dermatologic consequences include: skin lesions, epidermal atrophy (thinning of the skin), exogenous ochronosis (bluish black skin discoloration), eczema, bacterial and fungal infections, dermatitis (skin inflammation), scabies, warts, acne, and sun damage and body odour. Further, skin bleaching can lead to fragile skin, poor wound healing, scarring and cancers, foetal toxicity (poisoning of the baby in the womb), immunosuppression (suppression of a healthy immune response), reduction in the proper function of the kidney and liver as well as failure, Cushing’s syndrome (the need for corrective surgery). Other more serious health risks include hypertension, diabetes, infertility (inability to achieve pregnancy), leukaemia, hormone disorders, lack of sleep, memory loss, tremors, speech and hearing impairment. These harms extend from the acute or chronic long-term exposure to the often hazardous chemical agents that are present in bleaching products. In addition, the damage from bleaching products notably hydroquinone, mercury, steroids etc.… is often worsened when users mix bleaching products with household chemicals such as toothpaste, laundry bleach, detergents and even automotive battery acid, a very common practice in some settings, to try to enhance their effect.
SKIN CANCER IS REPORTED AS ONE OF THE MAJOR CAUSES OF DEATH AMONGST BLEACHERS AND THEREFORE IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE WE HAVE A FULL BLOWN EPIDEMIC ON OUR HANDS.
For these reasons, several governments have launched public service announcements and public health campaigns to educate the public on the risks of using these products.
To be continued tomorrow……………..Still on the most interesting part of this discourse…..the public health impact of skin bleaching!!!!!!!!
- The terms “skin-lightening,” “skin-whitening,” and “skin-bleaching” were used interchangeably throughout the paper. All three terms refer to the practice of chemically lightening the skin.
- The term “Global South” refer to developing nations, or Third World nations. Although there is much diversity within the Global South, many are former European colonies and consequently have particular economic and cultural relationships with the West.