Your Skin – Why You Should Never Take It For Granted – Part I
How do you perform skincare?
Have you a routine or 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).
Most times, skin lightening is 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 patients and 5% of male patients admitted to having used skin creams containing hydroquinone and other skin-depigmenting agents in the past.
- Up to 40% of the female patients and 2% of the male patients currently used the products.
Some women have reportedly tried these creams on their babies. This is dangerous and could potentially lead to kidney damage or the death of the child.
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.
Harmful Skin Care Chemicals
Examples of such chemicals are Hydroquinone, Mercury and Corticosteroids.
These harmful chemicals, especially Hydroquinone and Mercury act by destroying the integrity of the skin.
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 make 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, you 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 of 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.
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Stay Well and see you again in our next post!
About the Author – Fisayo Aturamu.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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