Creams to Lighten Skin Linked to Side Effects

Some people who use creams to lighten their skin, such as Fair & White, L’Abidjanaise and Hyprogel, have reportedly been experiencing potentially serious side effects from the skin lightening creams.

In a New York Times investigation published on Friday, a number of dermatologists say that the use of the creams to lighten skin color is skyrocketing, particularly among women of Hispanic, Indian and African descent. The creams, sold online as well as at beauty shops and bodegas, are unregulated, sometimes contain powerful steroids in large amounts and may not disclose all of the ingredients.

The side effects of skin lightening products can include a variety of ailments, from severe acne to damage to the nervous system. In some cases the skin can become thin and bruise easily or turn blue-black in certain spots. In some cases, the creams have also been found to cause hypertension and throw off the body’s natural balance of steroids.

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Skin lightening creams have been found to contain corticosteroids like clobetasol propionate and hydroquinone, as well as mercury. In the case of some counterfeit products, there are four to five times as many steroids included than in the real thing.

According to the New York Times, in many stores in cities such as Miami, Chicago and New York, know they are selling items that should only be sold as a prescription or that include outright illegal substances, but do so anyway, unconcerned about FDA enforcement.

FDA officials say they are aware of the problem but are unable to talk about enforcement actions and can not say whether they are pursuing manufacturers or dealers who sell skin-lightening creams that include illegal or regulated substances.

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