The Nigeria Association of Dermatologists have warned that using mixed skin creams, commonly known as “organic creams”, constituted more danger than good.
The dermatologist raised the alarm at a public sensitisation exercise at Bodija market, Ibadan, on Saturday.
The medical doctors held the campaign to commemorate the 2019 World Skin Health Day, tagged “Skin Care and Sun Protection”.
A consultant dermatologist, Dr Ngozi Akueme, said that many of the organic skin products, which have become major beauty trends, contain high doses of steroids and harmful chemicals including hydroquinone.
“There are a lot of people who market this beauty trend of mixed cream and are quote clever on how they label it, they don’t call it bleaching cream but organic whitening or lightening creams.
“They tell you they mixed their skin products from the scratch, saying it is all-organic and natural, however, that those creams contain are steroids, hydroquinone and mercury at a very high level.
“For instance, the hydroquinone in the ideal over-the-counter skincare creams shouldn’t be above two per cent, but you will be amazed that we are finding organic creams containing as high as 13 per cent in Nigerian markets.
“Studies are ongoing to determine what each of these creams contain and in the nearest future we are going to come out with our findings and the facts to back it up,” she said.
Akueme, who works at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said that skin bleaching also known as skin lightening and whitening could result in devastating effects including skin cancer, thinning of the skin, diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and abnormalities in an unborn child.
According to her, skin bleaching depletes the skin of melanin which is supposed to protect from the harmful effects of sun exposure.
“While we don’t often see cases of skin cancer in the hospital, it is becoming increasingly common and some of the causes have been linked to skin bleaching.
“We are being faced everyday with the side effects of skin bleaching, we see many cases patients who come everyday with very bad unwanted side effects.
“Skin bleaching also results in poor wound healing and thinning of skin. Surgeons have problem with such skin during surgery,” she said.
She called on regulatory agencies to take firm stand on skincare regulations, saying “these creams are causing more damage than good to our people”.
Dr Aderonke Edun, a member of the association, advised people to avoid going out when it is sunny without wearing protective clothing and sunglasses.
“The skin is the largest and one of the most important organs of the body. It is therefore important to take proper care of it.
“You can protect yourself from the effects of sunlight by applying sunscreens on the body, avoiding the sun at its peak which is between 10 a.m and 3 p.m.
“When you go out in the sun, wear wide brim hats, stay under shades and umbrella and keep your skin hydrated by drinking lots of water and using moisturisers.
“Check the contents of the cream to make sure it has basic moisturising and sunscreen properties not lightening chemicals,” she said.
Mrs Grace Adekoya, an Assistant Director of Public Health Nursing at UCH, said that the depletion of the ozone layer made it more important than ever to protect the skin when going out to avoid the adverse effects of chronic sin exposure.
According to her, exposure to sunlight causes damage to human tissue and higher incidence of skin conditions, including skin cancer.
“Report any skin abnormality to a skin doctor, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid skin lightening and bleaching products,” she said.
The association noted that many unregistered skin lightening and whitening skin products are widely advertised on Instagram and Facebook with labels, including Half Cast Fluid, Hot Chocolate, Egyptian Glow Oil, Baby Glow Butter, Moroccan Whitening Cream and Soft Tone Fluid with 100 per cent organic creams, among others.