Be cautious when using skin-lightening products

2016-09-08 06:00
PHOTO: sourced Skin lightening products may damage your skin permanently with prolonged use.

PHOTO: sourced Skin lightening products may damage your skin permanently with prolonged use.

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SKIN lightening creams are becoming popular among dark-skinned Indian and black communities on the lower South Coast.

Although the contents of these products are shrouded in mystery, people still buy them because they are a cheap quick fix.

While some use them to treat skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, acne and scarring, others say they want to be light in complexion as they feel more attractive.

What should worry those who use these creams is that the labels often state the products are made from natural ingredients.

If you use any of these products, the question you should ask is, would something that is all-natural be able to deliver results that quick?

Dermatologist, Marc Roscher, says the answer to that question is, quite simply, no.

“You should avoid products that do not list their ingredients and products that contain mercury. The problem is manufacturers typically would not list the item,” said Roscher.

He said mainstream dermatology advises against generalised skin lightening.

“Patients are encouraged to get comfortable with their natural skin tone. Having dark blemishes, however, is a different issue and many cures for that problem are available at a dermatologist consulting office.”

He says it is possible that these skin lightening products bring about rapid changes to the skin, only to have an adverse effect on it at a later stage.

“Certainly lightening agents are very valuable, but indiscriminate use causes damage in the long run. If you want to establish whether a product is appropriate for your skin, visit an expert.”

He added that overuse and unsupervised use can cause scarring and damage.

“There is a lot of abuse of unsanctioned products and dermatologists all over the country deal with the fallout in their offices every day.”

The internet is filled with horror stories on how these products have caused severe damage to a person’s skin.

Roscher says the damage can be rectified over time.

“The damage can be rectified, but the problem is that people want quick fixes and do not want to pay for expert advice and skin rescue. People need to think carefully about how they treat their skin.”

So what do these products actually do to the skin? According to these creams may cause premature ageing of the skin, increase risk for infections, poor wound healing, increase risk for skin cancer from sun exposure and the ingredient, hydroquinone (bleaching agent) may cause untreatable skin discolouration.

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