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Skin lightening cosmetics include bleaching creams, soaps, and pills that contain compounds designed to inhibit melanin production and thereby lighten skin. Exposure to chemicals in the bleaching products—notably, mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids—has been associated with a variety of adverse health effects. Even when they know the risks, there is always someone around to assure them that they’ve been using these substances for years with no issues. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report said that 77% of Nigerians use skin lightening products on a regular basis. This West African country is followed by Togo with 59%, South Africa with 35%, Senegal with 27% and Mali with 25%. Extensive public awareness campaigns have been going on for years, led by the WHO, international NGOs, and media outlets, to educate adults on the dangers of smoking, on safe sex, on healthy eating, and on the importance of driving with a seat belt. My experience founding and working for more than eight years with Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF) inspired Outer Shell Africa. The WHO points to the particular danger facing pregnant women who consume contaminated fish: When mercury compounds are transferred to a fetus, they can cause neurological problems later in the child’s life. All people have a right to health, and skin bleaching must be treated just like other public-health concerns. Why do people use these products despite the dangers? It is projected that, by 2024, the profits from the sale of skin bleaching agents will be around $31.2 billion internationally with Africa and Asia contributing to about 65% of the overall profits. Skin lightening — also called skin whitening or skin bleaching — is the practice of using cosmetics to either reduce the appearance of age spots and/or discoloration or to change one’s natural complexion. A study or a WHO statement may attract readers and researchers, but it does not make much difference on the ground. In Nigeria, the country with has the highest proportion of skin beaching, these products can be found in any cosmetic, street, or beauty shop, and in open markets. The most extensive section evaluates studies of toxic effects in experimental animals and in vitro test systems. According to, World Health Organization, the skin bleaching industry has grown into a billion-dollar international industry for the past few decades. Vitiligo affects one in every hundred people and can strike anyone at any time, and can lead to depression and social isolation. The World Health Organization backs up her assertion. The negative effects reach beyond those who use the products directly, according to the WHO. According to NHS guidelines, any product claiming to lighten skin or contain ingredients such as steroids or hydroquinone must be prescribed by a doctor, as well as staying in close contact with your doctor throughout treatment. Hydroquinone and products containing hydroquinone are used in cosmetics and medical skin preparations as a depigmentation agent to lighten small areas of hyperpigmented skin and to treat various other disorders of pigmentation. Some have just partial information, and might think, say, that a product is healthy as long as it does not contain hydroquinone. “As an organization, we are extremely concerned by the inflow of skin lightening products on the Zambian market including products for permanent skin lightening which are being sold on line such as serums, pills and injections because these products may contain mercury and hydroquinone which the World Health Organization has indicated as being harmful to health,” Ms Kearns said. The report, which examines the dangers of mercury in … Vitiligo is a long-term condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on the skin—in severe cases these cover the whole body. Hydroquinone was first used in the 30s, but the skin-bleaching industry is booming today, as products are manufactured in and imported from Asia. In India, for example, the skin lightening industry Skin conditions and diseases continue to be neglected, underestimated, and written off as problems that are not life-threatening. Ogo Maduewesi is an Ashoka fellow/Making More Health fellow, social entrepreneur, and writer. These compounds are then introduced to food chains, and may ultimately be consumed by humans. Christopher Tufton (centre); Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Birth Defects. I do not encourage skin whitening or bleaching; I educate people about the dangers of these practices and work on generating public awareness. Popular apps and … Is There a Dark Side to Arctic Cooperation? Addressing this problem should be made a priority for the WHO and for ministries of health across Africa and beyond. According to WHO , upwards of 77 percent of women in Nigeria bleach their skin, while 40 percent of women in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea have admitted to using lightening products. Many expectant mothers put their unborn babies at great risk by their unrepentant use … In response, the East … Dr Kamuri notes that the allure of the young women who desire to transform their skin from dark- to light-skinned is increasingly worrying. The event looked into the adverse effects of these products, shared information, and discussed some of the practices, experiences as well as challenges … Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. According to the World Health Organization, four out of 10 women for Africa dey use skin-lightening products. Despite numerous articles written, blogs posted, satires published, and a BBC documentary released on the topic, none proffer active solutions. The practice remains widely popular despite widespread advocacy by the World Health Organization (2015) that the bleaching products contain inorganic mercury which can cause kidney damage, skin discoloration and rashes among other negative health outcomes. - … Inorganic mercury, for example, described by the World Health Organization as a “common ingredient found in skin lightening soaps and creams” often used in Africa and Asia, can cause kidney damage. As a result, dangerous skin bleaching has become a public health crisis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even in some countries where such products have been banned, they are still advertised and available to consumers via the Internet and other means. It’s estimated to be worth $31.2 billion U.S. by 2024. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mercury is a common ingredient found in skin lightening soaps and creams. Almost every skin lotion, bath soap and bath gel contain some form of skin whitening agent. In 2009 report from Global Industry Analysts declared skin-lightening a $10 billion industry; the organization also projects that the number would hit $23 billion by 2020. Call it whatever name you wish: skin lightening, skin whitening, skin brightening, skin fading; if you like, hide under the guise of “skin toning”; skin bleaching is not a wise decision! Do we have to wait until more harm is done before we act? Skin bleaching is a common thing in Nigeria, so much so that Nigeria has been declared the World capital of skin bleaching. The belief that fairer skin is more appealing than darker skin means that people bleach their skin to enhance their beauty; they desire to feel and be perceived as beautiful. In 2017, the global skin-lightening industry was worth $4.8bn (£3.4bn), despite the World Health Organisation classing the practice as a global health crisis. In Nigeria alone, 77% of women -- by extrapolation, more than 60 million people are using lightening products on a "regular basis", the World Health Organization (WHO) said in 2011. Working on the Vitiligo cause showed me how neglected and underestimated skin health, visible differences, and psychosocial challenges are in Africa. The World Health Organization has released statistics of countries that bleach and Nigeria has again topped the chart as the nation with the highest consumption of bleaching products. Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-2019), Coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) ». The UNEP Global Mercury Partnership and its Area of work on Mercury in Products, in cooperation with the World Health Organization, organized on 30 November 2020 a webinar to focus on the issue of mercury in skin lightening products. 2 Although skin bleaching products are hazardous to one’s health and banned in many countries, these products are available for sale over the internet, providing unlimited access to potential customers. When there is no public education campaign or when such a campaign fails, people are left to look after their health without reliable guidance. All-natural products containing papaya, lemon juice, or rice water can serve as alternatives, and azelaic acid and niacin amide are claimed to be safer than the compounds often found in bleaching creams and soaps. WORLD health chiefs are cracking down on "dangerous" myths circulating as the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues it's spread. According to the statistics recently published by WHO, 77% of Nigerian women bleach, followed by Togo with 59% while South Africa with 35%; and Mali at 25%. Melanin, a pigment found … There have been research papers dating as far back as the 1990s on the dangers of skin bleaching. A cross-sectional study in Togo reported that 58.9% of women used skin toning cosmetic products and that 30.9% used products containing mercury. In 2011, the World Health Organization published an assessment on skin bleaching in 2011, which showed that 77 percent of Nigerians use skin-lightening products—the highest proportion in the world. When autocomplete results are available use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Maduewesi is the founder of Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF), the first Vitiligo patient-driven organization in sub-Saharan Africa, and she recently spearheaded Vitiligo in Africa Alliance. My own startup social enterprise, Outer Shell Africa–Skin and Appearance Social Lab, is making a positive difference in the lives of sub-Saharan Africans living with skin conditions and diseases and visible differences. Statistics compiled by the World Health Organisation in 2011 showed that 40% of African women bleach their skin. Other effects include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and peripheral neuropathy. She is passionate about social well-being and the rights of sub-Saharan Africans living with skin conditions and visible differences. In some countries the figure is higher: a … The skin-bleaching products flooding Nigerian markets must be actively and thoroughly checked by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and Nigerian customs officials to ensure that the dangerous ones are not smuggled in—banned should mean banned. They are advertised openly on billboards, television, and social media. Why would anyone want to make skin bleaching look like a political issue?’ she asked. In Nigeria, individuals often bear the costs of their own health care, and are often ignorant of the health implications of their personal behavior. • The skin lightening industry is one of the fastest growing beauty industries worldwide and is estimated to be worth US$ 31.2 billion by 2024 (14). These efforts have not tried to stop people from having sex, smoking, not exercising, or eating junk, but have focused on providing assistance. All African countries should take strict measures to keep out these products, and safer brands of skin-bleaching products should be offered—and at affordable prizes—in the way free condoms are made available for people to protect themselves during sex. Dangerous skin-care treatments can be life-threatening, and skin health deserves our urgent attention. Routine skin whitener use ranges from 25% in Mali to 77% in Nigeria, and it's 40% in China, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea, according to the World Health Organization. Mercury, the active ingredient in most bleaching creams and soaps, is banned in most African nations, including Nigeria, yet these products still find their way into shops and homes across the continent. All people have a right to health. The World Health Organization says the skin lightening industry is one of the fastest growing beauty industries in the world. Mercury can be eliminated from skin lightening products by working with health and environmental ministries and raising public awareness about the dangers to health from mercury and other hazardous chemicals (such as hydroquinone) in skin lightening products. Mercury in Skin Lightening Products. The fact that a rising number of people are bleaching their skin, destroying their melanin and exposing themselves to health risks, indicates a failure of public-health outreach. Skin bleaching side effects is simply defined as all the ways bleaching destroys your skin and health. To Ensure Food Security, Keep Soils Healthy, Talking Policy: Okechukwu Enelamah on Global Economics in the Trump Era, ‘Traditional’ Values and the Fight for LGBT Rights. But this leaves the dangers of harmful skin-bleaching treatments—which are ubiquitous in Nigeria, across Africa, and among dark-skinned individuals around the world—largely unrecognized. In Africa, the World Health Organization claims that Nigeria has the highest percentage of women using skin toning products with reported 77% of women engaging in the practice [ 8 ]. Many individuals and small businesses are joining this lucrative business, and skin-bleaching products flood Nigerian markets like bottled water. Outer Shell Africa–Skin and Appearance Social Lab, Why the Kremlin is Waltzing over “Matilda”. Girls from a … In a report recently released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Nigeria has the highest percentage of users of skin bleaching. In addition to the efforts dermatologists are making in educating their patients about dangers of skin bleaching, the entire medical community should follow recommendations to devote its energy to researching and addressing this issue. According to the WHO, the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage, but the chemical may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. She is also the founder of Outer Shell Africa–Skin and Appearance Social Lab. It is probably impossible to change people’s desire for fairer skin, and their belief that they become more appealing and successful with fairer skin, but those who use these products are often not even warned of the risks through health education campaigns. The dangers are particularly acute in Africa as users mix together multiple products in an attempt achieve faster results, including hazardous caustic agents (such as automotive battery acid, washing power, toothpaste, cloth bleaching agents, or lemon) that contain high levels of mercury, increasing the risk of severe health problems. The World Health Organization published an assessment on skin bleaching in 2011, which stated that 77 percent of Nigerians use skin-lightening products—the highest proportion in the world. People thus turn to self-treatment and self-medication, substandard medications, and whatever chemicals and herbs are readily available. The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that Nigerian women are the highest users of skin lightening products in the World, as about 77% of Nigerian women buy and use these products! The truth is that most users are ignorant of the damaging effect of the products on their health. Within three weeks, sales surpassed 15,000 units. May 16, 2020 - World Health Organization (2011). At Outer Shell Africa, we use digital storytelling and other creative tools to emphasize “social wellness and social inclusion” for people living with these conditions. The World Health Organization published an assessment on skin bleaching in 2011, which stated that 77 percent of Nigerians use skin-lightening products—the highest proportion in the world. For Africa, Nigeria top di list with 77% … Overview Mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health and as a result have been banned in many countries. Given the hazards associated with the use of these products, skin bleaching must be recognized as an urgent public-health concern. Mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health and as a result have been banned in many countries. WHO's primary role is to direct international health within the United Nations' system and to lead partners in global health responses. And many skin whiteners are associated with proven skin damage or other health risks. Skin whitening is big business across Africa; one skin-whitening product called Whitenicious, which claims to use all natural products, launched by Nigerian-Cameroonian pop musician Reprudencia Sonkey (known by her stage name, Dencia), sold out almost immediately after its release. Even in some countries where such products have been banned, they are still advertised and available to consumers via the Internet and other means. “As an organization, we are extremely concerned by the inflow of skin lightening products on the Zambian market including products for permanent skin lightening which are being sold on line such as serums, pills and injections because these products may contain mercury and hydroquinone which the World Health Organization has indicated as being harmful to health,” Ms Kearns said. What we need is a grass-roots campaign with a strong call to action. To stop the manufacture, import and export of skin lightening products in line with the Minamata Convention, regulatory actions by governments are needed – including training of customs agents – as well as major media and advocacy campaigns. When these soaps and creams are used, the mercury they contain enters wastewater. 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