Skin Bleaching

Skin Bleaching: Is It Safe for your Skin?

Skin bleaching, lightening or whitening product sales have greatly increased over recent years. Driven by the world’s obsession with lighter skin tones, skin bleaching is now a popular trend among Africans, African diaspora, Asians and South Americans.

Those with naturally light skin tone are considered better looking and, therefore, more privileged. Those with darker skin tones have turned to skin bleaching creams, pills, and even medical injections for a lighter completion. No one wants to be called unattractive.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at skin bleaching. We find out what skin bleaching is all about, its effects on your health and offer you remedies from our collection that you can use if you have skin complications.

Let’s discuss that below;

Are all Kinds of Skin Bleaches Harmful?

The correct answer depends on where you are getting the products from and for what purpose. Medically, thousands of Americans use prescribed bleaching products to treat spots, acne, sunburn skin discoloration, and freckles.

Prescribed bleaching creams are considered safe as they meant to be used in small amounts. Prolonged use or applying such treatments all over the body will expose your body to chemical poisoning.

Skin problems such as Vitiligo- a condition that leaves dark pale patches on the skin are treated through medical bleaching. The bleach lightens the darkened patches of skin. However, this cannot be bought over the counter. It is advisable that it is taken under a doctor’s supervision.

Natural melanin reducers such as Vitamin C, A and B3 are considered safe with no known side effects. Herbs such as Emblica and fruit acids such as glycolic acid also work quite effectively.

Harmful Bleaching Agents

According to Webmd.com, c. With reduced production or non-at all of melanin, the skin gets a brighter tone. Safe Skin bleaching products on your body or skin to give it a give it a lighter skin tone.

Here Are Some Harmful Bleaching Agents:

Harmful Bleaching
  • Mercury
    This is considered as one of the most harmful bleaching compounds’. Prolonged use of mercury can poison blood, cause kidney failure and severe imbalance your nervous system. It has been completely banned in the USA.

    However, products containing mercury still make it into the Country through back doors. So you have to be very careful when you purchase over the counter bleaching creams.

    Despite its disastrous health effects, some Counterfeit companies continue to use mercury in their skin bleaching treatments. This is because mercury salts are cheaper to buy compared than other compounds used in bleach.

  • Steroids
    Steroids have been reported to cause skin thinning and irritations on the skin. They have also been linked to imbalances in the immune system.
    Other skin bleaching methods
  • Laser And Chemical Peels Treatment
    Although not confirmed, it is believed that some people, including celebrities, are using laser treatments and chemical peels to rid their skin of melanin. These processes were previously used on people with lupus and Vitiligo. This process is very expensive.
  • Hydroquinone
    Hydroquinone

    Hydroquinone is considered to be much safer than mercury. It is however recommended for use by prescription only. While skin bleaching creams given under prescription have a sale by date which prevents overexposure to chemical compounds in blood.

Anyone willing to use such products is advised to read the labels carefully before buying the products. Some can be a real danger to your health.

Hydroquinone which was once allowed for use in medication in USA has been proposed to be banned too. In Europe, it has been completely banned.

Why are Some People Darker than Others?

The human skin contains melanin. Melanin is a natural skin pigment that forms a protective layer on top of the skin protecting it from burning by the sun rays. This is why African’s and others from the tropics -where there is a lot of sun -have darker skin tones. Their bodies produce more melanin.

However other factors such as hormones, skin damage and genetic makeup can also alter the skin tone.

How Does Skin Bleaching Work?

Bleaching products contain pigments such as mercury. Mercury hinders the production of melanin on the skin where it is applied therefore leaving the skin with a lighter skin tone.

However, applying mercury all over the body can be harmful to your health. An excessive amount of mercury in blood, can lead to poisoning. With time, the poisoned blood ends up affecting vital organs such as the liver, kidney and heart leading to other complications and even death.

Pregnant women using skin lightening creams during pregnancy, run the risk of passing the poisoned blood to their unborn children. This leads to physical deformity, psychiatric and neurological problems.

Skin Lightening

In the U.S, use of mercury in skin bleaching treatments has been banned. In other countries, however, they still contain these harmful compounds. The most recommended ingredient in these treatments is hydroquinone.

The FDA regulation states that only 2% of hydroquinone can be sold over the counter and 3%-6% prescribed by a doctor for medical purposes. Any products that contain more of such compounds are illegal.

Retinoic acid and steroids are now popularly used as whole body skin bleaching agents. Natural skin bleachers such as Kojic acid and arbutin are also safe agents to use in skin lightening treatments.

How Risky is Skin Bleaching?

Most skin bleaching treatments made out of the USA contain mercury. It is therefore not advisable to get your bleaching treatments from outside the country.

Those allowed and used in the USA have side effects too. Below we have listed a few from WebMd.

  • Skin aging
    It is not advisable to use bleaching creams for a long time. With time, the treatments cause your skin to age prematurely.
  • Skin Cancer
    Since bleaching agents for skin are meant to Holt production of melanin- a key skin protector, the skin is left exposed to harmful sun rays. This leads to sunburns and eventually a serious case of skin cancer. People using bleaching treatments are advised to use sunscreens whenever they go out in the sun.
  • Exposure To Skin Infections
    The absence of melanin exposes your skin to infections, acne, and prolonged wound healing. Steroids will destroy your skin cells and have also been linked to immune imbalances. They have known to cause other abnormities too such as the growth of facial hair in women and breast enlargement in men.
  • Hydroquinone
    Over time, hydroquinone causes irritable and noticeable skin discoloration also known as ochronosis. You will notice that parts of the skin are darker or lighter than others. Recent studies show that this compound is just as harmful as mercury when used in large amounts. Its banning has been proposed in the USA, although there is a consensus about it.
  • Allergies
    Some bleaching treatments have been known to trigger allergic reactions. This may be due to the absence of protective melanin on the skin.
  • Permanent/ Skin Bleaching
    Prolonged use of bleaching treatments eventually destroys melanin producing cells under the skin. This prevents future production of melanin leaving the skin exposed for the rest of your life. While some may think this is a good thing, it leaves your skin exposed to all manner of diseases and infections.

    People with permanently bleached skin look unnatural and cannot go out in the sun without protection.

  • Skin Thinning
    Lack of melanin on skin causes the skin to lose its elasticity and flexibility. In case of an accident, the bleached person cannot be stitched because the skin loses its elasticity with excessive bleaching.
  • Red skin
    Some people look like they are constantly blushing. Prolonged use of bleach can discolor the skin. This is especially noticeable around the cheeks, forehead and below the eyes.
  • Skin Irritation
    People with bleached skin often experience skin irritation. This may come from infections, dust or cold weather. While a normal skin can with stand most environmental threats, bleached skin cannot. Your skin will constantly have blemishes, rashes and boils on bleached skin.

What Precautions Can You Take To Reduce Risks?

  1. Consult your doctor/dermatologist before starting to use any bleaching treatment, whether for medical purposes or not. A health practitioner will help you choose the right product with no harmful ingredients.
  2. Sometimes mercury is concealed under other names such as mercurous, mercurio and mercuric. Make sure this is not the case by carefully studying the label before purchasing.
  3. Make sure the product has less than 2% hydroquinone as is required by law. Going for products with higher compounds of this will only put your health and skin in danger.

How can I Restore my Bleached Skin?

There are ointments and treatments in the market for bleached skin. However, if I was to recommend anything, it would be Solvaderm range of skin care products. Their Ace-ferulic anti-aging anti-oxidant, hyperpigmentation dermpura and dermasol sunscreen works well to rejuvenate and restore blemished bleached skin.

Conclusion

I do not recommend skin bleaching. But if you must, go for quality products that are healthy and safe for your skin. Alternatively, you can make your skin glow with brightness by living a healthy lifestyle. Eat balanced diets, exercise and drink lots of water. These are the real secrets to a better completion.

References

  • http://www.webmd.com/beauty/face/skin-lightening-products
  • http://www.isclinical.com/whitepapers/WhitePaper_Hydroquinone_July2014.pdf

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