Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Think twice before bleaching your skin

By Mthandazo Ndlovu

This week we revisit the skin lightening substances, to answer inquiries that have been coming in on the subject.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga

It is now known within our communities that chemical bleaching can lead to serious skin and health conditions, which include permanent skin bleaching, thinning of the skin, uneven colour loss, leading to a blotchy appearance, redness and intense irritation, dark grey spots, skin cancer, acne, increase in appetite and weight gain, osteoporosis, neurological and kidney damage due to high level of mercury used in the creams, psychiatric disorders, asthma, liver damage and severe birth defects, in children born to mothers who abuse some of these chemicals .

Acting President Costantino Chiwenga and wife Mary at the burial of his sister Margaret Machekabuwe in Marondera today. Picture by Justin Mutenda
Vice President Costantino Chiwenga and wife Mary at the burial of his sister Margaret Machekabuwe in Marondera today. Picture by Justin Mutenda

Due to the desire of changing skin colour and the ignorance of the effects of these chemicals, we have found babies being bleached and this is a health hazard to the child due to the chemicals contained therein.

Your makeup becomes your make down when you use these chemical bleaching chemicals, always keep in mind that even if they are sold over the counter they still carry the same effects.

Some of these creams contain hydroquinone in either small or high quantities but it is not safe even in small quantities and is a banned substance in the European Union, Australia and Japan due to its health risks.

I will look into a few of these bleaching agents and how they work. Melanin is a complex polymer derived from amino acid tyrosine and is responsible for determining skin and hair colour depending on the quantities used, so the more melanin you have the darker you will be.

Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production, meaning that it prevents dark skin from making the substance for skin colour and has been banned because of the cancer risk it exposes the users to work to inhibit melanin production and some work in post melanin synthesis.

Tretinoin (also known as all-trans retinoic acid) is used mainly for skin discolouration. Negative side effects been that it makes the user sensitive to UVA and UVB rays and has the opposite effect of darkening the skin.

Many skin whiteners contain toxic mercury such as mercury (II) chloride or ammoniated mercury as the active ingredient. It accumulates in the skin and can have the opposite results in the long-term. Research and studies have shown that long-term use could cause systematic absorption that leads to tissue accumulation of the substance.

Steroids are prescribed by skin specialists to deal with some skin conditions, but are also abused for skin lightening as they act as “vasoconstrictors” slowing down the flow of blood and making the skin lighter in appearance. Steroids slow down the skin cells renewal process of the outer layer.

The out skin layer becomes thinner and green veins will begin to appear. Unmonitored use leads to skin damage and also interferes with the body’s hormones and in extreme cases result in disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome.  –B-Metro

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