In a Health Talk given at the Women’s Conference on the effects and dangers of skin bleaching, the Guest Speaker, Dr. Oluwatoyin Akinsiku, a dermatologist highlighted the following;

Skin bleaching is the cosmetic application of topical ointments, gels, soaps and household chemicals to de-pigment or lighten (bleach) the skin complexion

  • It is mostly done indiscriminately without consideration for its side effects many of which can be life threatening
  • Available statistics reveal that between 24-77% of the global population are involved in this act
  • Frequency of bleaching is influenced by factors such as socio-economic status, cultural beliefs, marriage seeking patterns among men among others
  • African women are some of the biggest consumers of skin bleaching products Skin bleaching is a form of skin harm; it is detrimental to skin health and is fraught with a lot of side effects which can be multi systemic
  • Side effects include skin atrophy otherwise known as thinning of the skin, renal (kidney diseases), liver impairment, persistent fungal and bacterial infections, poor wound healing, body odour amongst others
  • Long term skin bleaching can cause permanent skin discolouration, early skin ageing with wrinkling, skin cancers, poor wound healing, impaired immune response, kidney and liver ailments
  • Need for a robust government and community collaboration with regards to these agents
  • Community efforts alone will not help without decisive government policies with regards to these agents.

Dr Akinsiku warned that all – especially the elderly should take care of their skin. She advised the following;

  •  Daily baths with warm water
  • Use of mild fragrance free soaps
  • Moisturizing on a wet skin
  • Use of sunscreens of at least spf30 and other sun protection measures
  • Consumption of fruits rich in antioxidants
  • Need for prompt treatment of skin infections by the dermatologist