“Healthy skin is beautiful skin, whatever the color”, says Dr.Clive Anderson, consultant dermatologist and venereologist at Nuttall //Medical Centre, Jamaica.
The doctor’s address is part of a move to get Jamaicans aware of the dangers of skin bleaching. Accordingly, many of the island’s youth resort to bleaching or lightening the skin with various creams got off the streets.
Government health officials plan to launch a campaign against skin bleaching, dubbed ‘Don’t kill the skin’, next month. They intend to use advertisements, literature and talks to convince people about the harm of bleaching.
Bleaching may lead to melanoma, one of the leading causes of death in the island, warn doctors.
Most of the creams contain hydroquinone, a chemical that counteracts melanin; the natural pigment responsible for the tone of skin or complexion.
Hydroquinone is a prescription drug in Europe and highly regulated in the U.S.
Melanin has the role of protecting the skin from harmful effects of the sun, hence using any cream that suppresses melanin production, can only have adverse effects, according to doctors.
The government has banned creams by the names Neprosone Gel, Hyprogel, Dermo Gel Plus and Movate Cream among others.
In addition to the heavy campaigning against bleaching, fines of 50,000 Jamaican dollars will be charged for the illegal sale of banned skin lighteners under the country's Food and Drug Act.
Doctors list the side effects of bleaching creams as skin cancer, thinning of the skin, irreversible stretch marks, easy bruising and tearing of the skin, rashes, enlarged blood vessels, susceptibility to infection, delayed wound healing, hyper pigmentation, acne and hormonal disturbances.
‘Beauty’ does seem to come at a very high cost.
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