Sign in to your account

Don't have an account?

Create an account
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more
Black medical doctor in a white coat and red stethoscope examining a patient on a ward. Our doctors on askawayhealth have years of clinical experience to provide top notch care.

Need to check your symptoms?

Use our symptom checker to help determine what your symptoms are and to ensure you get the help you need.

Check your symptoms


Request a reset

Don't have an account?

Create an account


Reset your password

Don't have an account?

Create an account


Your Skin – Why You Should Never Take It For Granted – Part I

October 20, 2018

How do you perform skincare? Have you a routine, or do you only bother when something goes wrong?

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and its main function is to protect the body from harm.

The skin contains melanin, a natural hormone which gives an individual his/her complexion.

The greater the amount of melanin in the skin, the darker the colour of the skin.

In promoting skincare, some people associate lighter skin colour with beauty and success.

Evidence for Abuse in Skin Care

This erroneous belief that a lighter skin complexion is more appealing misleads a lot of people who then engage in various practices to lighten their skin colour.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2011, showed that about 77% of Nigerians use skin lightening products (creams, lotions or soaps).

Skin lightening is often associated with women, but men also engage in this practice.

In 2004, a survey done at the LASUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) skin clinic on patients above the age of 16 years revealed that:

  • 92% of female and 5% of male patients admitted to using skin creams containing hydroquinone and other skin-depigmenting agents.
  • Up to 40% of female and 2% of male patients currently use the products.
Pensive little one, free of acne

Some women have reportedly tried these creams on their babies. This is dangerous and could lead to kidney damage or the child’s death.

Earlier this year, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority condemned the use of Glutathione-containing pills by pregnant women to lighten the skin of their unborn babies as this has led to a rise in the number of babies born with birth defects.

Although some people try to lighten their skin on purpose, others might have done so unintentionally because a lot of skin products sold in beauty shops in Nigeria contain active ingredients that have been proven to lighten the skin.

smooth skin side image of a young african lady with glowing skin and coal black shiny hair

Harmful Skin Care Chemicals

Examples of such chemicals are Hydroquinone, Mercury and Corticosteroids.

These harmful chemicals, especially Hydroquinone and Mercury, destroy the skin’s integrity.

This happens because they act on the enzymes which make Melanin, reducing its amount in the skin.

In addition, common steroids used in skin-lightening products are Clobetasol Propionate and Betamethasone.

These steroids narrow blood vessels reducing blood supply to the area. Hence, they create a lighter appearance of the skin.

Did you know your choice of skin creams could also put you at risk of toilet infections?

The damaging effect of the chemicals, if used around your vulva or vagina, can lead to inflammation of these areas.

Known as (vulvitis and vaginitis, respectively), these conditions may develop painful vaginal discharge or bleeding after sex.

It is necessary to look out for these chemicals while shopping for skincare products.

Some manufacturers put up synonyms for Hydroquinone to camouflage their products.

In the next segment of this article, we will look at the synonyms and analyse further the effects of these harmful chemicals on the skin.

We are always happy to hear comments, so please drop a line below or contact us directly if you need any more advice specific to your needs.

Stay Well, and see you again in our next post!

More Reading

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.

To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

Image credit @Canva, Photo by William Stitt from Unsplash

Share this blog article

On this page

Let us know what you think

Want to know how your comment data is processed? Learn more

Access over 600 resources & our monthly newsletter.

Askawayhealth 2023 grant recipient from European Union Development Fund

Askawayhealth, 2023 Award Recipient

Our educational content meets the standards set by the NHS in their Standard for Creating Health Content guidance.

Askawayhealth aims to deliver reliable and evidence based women's health, family health and sexual health information in a way that is easily relatable and easy for everyone to access.

Askawayhealth symptom Checker tool image

Utilize our complimentary symptom checker tool to gain more information about any uncertain symptoms you might have.