Nigeria Leads in Skin Bleaching, Says Expert

A dermatologist at the  University of  Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Dr. Nike Omotoyosi, has said Nigeria has  the  highest number of  people who  indulge  in  skin bleaching.

Delivering a lecture entitled,  “The Harmful Effects  of Skin Bleaching,’’ yesterday in Ilorin at a Lenten season programme, organised by the wife of Kwara State governor, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, the dermatologist stated that  the rate of skin cancer and other kidney diseases was on the rise due to bleaching.

“Nigeria is the foremost country where people bleach their skin in the whole world due to the negative effects of advertisements on billboards where white skinned women are portrayed as beautiful.

“There is the misconception that only fair people are beautiful. As such, those with dark skin would want to attract the opposite sex by removing the dark spot using different chemicals to bleach,” a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted her as saying.

Omotoyosi, who  noted that some were lured into bleaching due to societal pressure, added  that the trend was now popular with men.
Bleaching, according to her, reduces  melanin, a pigment of the skin.
According to her,  melanin protects  the skin from the harsh rays of the sun  while acting as a protective agent against cancer and other dangerous skin diseases.

She said  active bleaching agents and chemicals found in most Nigerian markets were hydroquinone, mercury and steroids.

“Many countries,  including Nigeria,  have banned the use of these active ingredients in cosmetics but bleaching  still persists in this country,” Omotoyosi said.

She said other side effects of bleaching included  burns, dark  nails, permanent luekodermia, easy bruising, stretch marks, recurrent skin infections, dermatitis, pimples breakout and onchronosis.

“Mercury poisoning on its own causes  severe nerve problems, movement disorders, hearing impairment, kidney damage and psychiatric disorders,” the dermatologist added.

Omotoyosi, however,  recommended sensitisation  of  the public on the dangers of  bleaching while also advocating the use of  moisturisers and sunscreen cream.

She further  called on government to check  advertisement copies , which  portray  the black race in negative light,  saying “Black is beautiful.’’

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