Over the years, skin bleaching has reached alarming proportions in most countries of the African continent.

This practice has names that vary from country to country. It is called ‘’Tchatcho’’ in Mali, ‘’Maquillage’’ or ‘’Njansang’’in Cameroon, ‘’Dorot’’ in Nigeria, ‘’Kopakola’’ in Gabon and ‘’Kobwakana’’in Congo Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Skin bleaching refers to the use of products to lighten dark areas or achieve an overall lighter complexion. These products include bleaching creams, soaps and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.

I- Actions of Bleaching On The Skin

Some African countries like Rwanda have banned the use of skin bleaching products.

Skin bleaching procedures work by reducing the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color and protects it from the skin.

People with dark skin have more melanin. Hydroquinone is a substance that decreases the number of melanocytes in the skin and can result in lighter skin and a more even appearance to the skin.

II- Effects of Skin Bleaching

Skin bleaching has been associated with a number of adverse health effects.

1- Dermatitis:

Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin caused by the contact with certain substances.

Symptoms can range from mild and severe and include skin ulcers, skin redness, burning and tenderness, dry, scaling skin and itching.

2- Steroid acne:

Steroid acne affects the chest, but can also show up on the back, arms, and other parts of the body with long term use of corticosteroids. Symptoms can include acne scars, small red bumps, whiteheads and blackheads and large and painful red lumps.

3- Nephrotic syndrome:

Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder caused by damage to the blood vessel in the kidney responsible for filtering waste and excess water. Symptoms can include swollen feet and ankles, loss of appetite, fatigue, and foamy urine.

I- Procedure of Use of Skin Bleaching:

Skin lightening creams are typically applied only to dark areas of skin once or twice a day.

This usually involves:

- Avoiding touching the treated area against the skin of another person

- Applying the product sparingly using clean hands or a cotton pad

- Washing the hands thoroughly after use

- Avoiding contact with the surrounding eyes, skin, mouth, and nose

- Applying sunscreen to prevent skin damage from UV exposure.

Skin bleaching is a personal choice that should not be made lightly. This medication may make the treated areas of skin more sensitive to the skin. Use the treatment regularly to get the most benefit from it. It is also important to get a good medical consultation from a dermatologist.

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