Think twice before applying any skin whitening creams as many of them contain ingredients that may cause cancer, a new study has revealed.
Whitening creams and other products have cancer-causing ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury, revealed a recent study by the Local Government Association of England and Wales.
The legal body warned that hydroquinone, a known bleaching agent, was the “the biological equivalent of paint stripper”. It also stated that mercury could cause life-threatening problems.
Authorities in the United Kingdom had seized several skin-whitening products with these illegal ingredients and warned consumers to be suspicious of all such low-priced products.
“Two to four percent of hydroquinone is allowed in medical dermatology but many people have started using 20% of them,” said Dr Seema Zia, a dermatologist and MPA, on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Thursday.
Mercury was used initially because it was cheap and produced quick results, she said.
Dr Zia explained that substandard whitening products are being manufactured in places which continue to ignore safety rules and regulations. These products are cheap and easily available in the market, she added.
Be wary of any over-the-counter creams that don’t mention their ingredients on the label, Dr Zia warned, as they probably contain harmful ingredients.
Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks by companies, instead consult doctors before you buy any skin creams, she advised.
“Your skin is the biggest organ in the body. Don’t take risks with it,” Dr Zia implored.
She also said it was the responsibility of monitoring bodies to conduct testing on random product batches and verify the ingredients for consumers.
What to do if you’ve been using skin whitening creams
“Hydroquinone causes skin to crack, while mercury damages your kidneys directly,” she said.
She advised people to get a urine DR and tests to measure mercury in the blood and urine and to detect the level of these chemicals in a person’s body.
As for improving skin pigmentation, Dr Zia recommended taking Vitamin C in natural forms. “But don’t start putting lemon juice over your face for it. It has elements in it that react with sunlight and can burn your skin,” she added.