Change skin color? Bleaching creams can have serious health effects – Dermatologist
Skin lightening products are becoming increasingly popular although many of them are illegal and unregistered by official authorities responsible for maintaining safe and effective skin care products for users. They come in a number of attractive packages to appeal to those drawn to outward beauty: bleaching creams, skin lighteners, bleaching creams, pills and injections all of which promote skin color lightening and transformation of natural dark skin to lighter skin, or to hide acne scars or age spots. The million rupee question do they all work? And how long does it take for the user to see a positive (or negative) result? How safe are they?
For starters, what determines the color of one’s skin in the first place? Is it a pigment? Is it genetic?
The Sunday Observer spoke to Consultant Dermatologist and Secretary of the Cosmetic Dermatology Subcommittee of the Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists, Dr Januka Galahitiyawa, to find answers to these questions that thousands of mostly women in this country and elsewhere in the world are desperate to find in their quest for beauty, to change their skin color to a lighter shade.
Here are excerpts.
Q. First, what is your definition of the skin and its function?
A. The skin is the largest organ in the body and its main functions are to protect against harmful physical and chemical agents and to regulate body temperature. The skin is the most sensitive organ of the body. As the skin is visible from the outside, having beautiful skin is quite alluring. Since ancient times, the skin has been described as one of the five things that make a woman beautiful, and our literature is full of poetry and discussions praising the beauty of female skin. Thus, maintaining beautiful skin has played a very important role for women.
Q. Do you have to have light skin to be beautiful?
A. It’s not skin color that matters. Whether you have black, brown or fair skin has nothing to do with beauty. Beautiful skin is flawless, healthy skin.
Q. What determines the color of his skin? Is it a pigment? Genetic?
A. Melanin, which is the pigment of our skin. There are two types of melanin, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin darkens our skin and protects us from the sun’s rays. In the absence or reduced amount of eumelanin, the skin loses its protection against ultraviolet rays resulting in premature aging of the skin with wrinkles and also the risk of skin cancers, which can even be fatal. In fact, we are born with a darker skin type to protect us from the sun because we live near the equator. According to genetic conditions and different weather conditions in the world, people inherit their skin color. His own skin color is his own identity.
Q. By age and gender, who comprises the highest users of skin lightening products?
A. It is the age group of 18 to 60 who uses these skin lightening agents. From a gender perspective, more than 90% are women of all ages, young and old, from teenagers to people in their 50s and 60s. Many have devalued their abilities and talents and go behind the right color, wasting money and time. Products are advertised unethically, appearing as a star naturally just to promote and endorse different products. As I mentioned earlier, the skin whitening market has grown into the billions. So have the adverse effects caused by them.-
Q. You mentioned the adverse health consequences of using these products. Can you elaborate on this subject?
A. As many of these skin lightening agents are not registered with the National Drug Regulatory Authority and imported illegally, we have evidence that their use can lead to serious health risks. To cite a few examples, they may contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic at very high concentrations than those recommended.
A few years ago, an analysis of the constituents of skin bleaching agents available on the market was carried out. In the concluded results, it was found that hydroquinone, like bleaching agents, is included in high concentrations and it could cause blackish pigmentation on the application areas. Illegally, potent steroids are added to it causing various side effects.
Steroids are a group of drugs used for various other skin problems, for a limited time in a limited area. And the potency of the steroid is the key factor, which should be very important. Strong steroids can cause whitish or light colored areas as a side effect.
They can cause short term side effects such as,
1. Skin allergies and dermatitis
2. Increased sensitivity to sun exposure
3. Instead of skin fairness, it may cause dark spots (brown or black) or white spots on the skin.
4. Steroids in topical applications can cause severe acne, skin discoloration, thinning of the skin, stretch marks, increased tendency to get different skin infections (viral, bacterial or fungal) and increase the severity of infections existing, increase the growth of facial hair in females.
When these applications are used long term, they can cause premature skin aging due to loss of skin protection, kidney and liver related problems can be caused due to heavy metals in lightening agents skin.
The occurrence of skin cancers, as well as other cancers, could be due to the heavy metals and glutathione present in these products
There is no proper scientific evidence to prove the use of glutathione for skin lightening. Creams and tablets causing skin fairness are limited. Injection forms of glutathione are not recommended for skin lightening in Sri Lanka as well as other countries, due to severe side effect profiles including allergic reactions and skin cancers.
Q. What about pregnant women who use these products, especially all over their bodies?
A. Applying skin lightening products all over the body to change skin tone poses some very risky complications because the active ingredient I mentioned is mercury.
Thus, bleaching can lead to mercury poisoning which can cause serious psychiatric, neurological and kidney problems. It is also said that a woman who uses it on her body and takes skin color lightening pills and injections during pregnancy can pass it to her unborn child and can also have harmful effects on the baby. .
Q. So how can you maintain your own natural beauty without any lightening products? Share some of your natural beauty tips with our readers.
A. Beautiful skin is healthy, flawless and glowing skin. To achieve this goal and maintain beautiful skin, you must follow the advice I have given you below:
Daily skin care routine –
Cleanse skin with mild soap or liquid cleanser. Washes and soaps that are too aggressive could alter the upper protective layer of the skin.
Use of a moisturizer adapted to your skin type,
Sun protection – Avoid direct exposure to the sun, wear hats, scarves, sun protection clothing, Application of sun protection cream with an SPF value greater than 30.
Proper diet and exercise-
A balanced diet,
Adequate exercise to maintain body mass index (BMI),
Weight reduction to avoid darkening of skin folds which would prevent
Sufficient rest and sleep
These are the best secrets for good healthy skin.
Treatment of existing skin diseases
(Skin inflammations, infections, pigment disorders, tumors, acne or etc.). Depending on the condition, topical, systemic, or procedural treatment must be taken to overcome the condition and achieve beautiful, clear skin. Trained and qualified dermatologists are ready to give you expert advice on skin care.
For “Makeup” to beautify the skin, you need to choose the right color in applications that suit your own skin tone, not the lightest skin tone.
Q. As Secretary of the Cosmetic Dermatology Sub-Committee of the Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists, tell us what your association has done and plans to do in the future to convey this important message and raise awareness among the general public?
A. A public awareness program aimed at promoting natural skin color and educating about the health risks that can be caused by skin lightening agents and changing attitudes to admire one’s own skin is led by Deputy cosmetic committee of the Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists. Broad outreach through social, print and electronic media to reach school children, university students, garment factory workers, etc. is underway to achieve the goal. Additionally, we encourage users to write their own stories and never let anything else stop their journey. Be proud of your own identity. Let’s come together to shine in your own skin color…. Sudu Kalu thalelu Api okkoma Dakumkalu
the color of beauty is the color you own every color is beautiful SLCD Dakumkalu
Q. Finally, do you have any advice for our readers?
A. Be aware of the power of your own identity. Learn to admire healthy skin, not “white” skin.
Take care of your skin with tender and loving care. Healthy skin reflects a healthy body.
The color of beauty is the color you own. Sudu Kalu Thalelu Api Okkoma Dakum Kalu. Beauty is not in facial mode. Beauty is about your uniqueness, good values, morals, kindness, compassion, personality, creativity, and thoughts.