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Effects of Skin Bleaching

by
author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Effects of Skin Bleaching
Hand with blotchy skin. Photo Credit Axel Bueckert/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Skin bleaching is popular with darker-skinned people to obtain a more even skin tone, but skin bleaching cream is also often used to lighten sun damage and age spots on the skin in people of all skin colors. Skin bleaching should be done under the supervision of a trained dermatologist, but too often hydroquinone cream, the most common type of skin bleach, is used without any supervision, which can result in uneven lightening of the skin and a slew of other undesirable effects.

Lightened Skin

The purpose of skin bleaching is to obtain a lighter skin tone, either all over the face or on a few smaller areas. The main ingredient of most cosmetically-available skin bleaching creams, hydroquinone, is effective in bringing about permanent lightening of the skin by inhibiting enzyme reaction of the skin which causes dark pigments.

Aggravated Skin Disease

A study performed by the Department of Dermatology, Institut d'Hygiène Sociale, Dakar, Senegal, and published in a 2003 issue of the British Journal of Dermatology found that those who suffered from skin diseases like acne, dermatitis and eczema were adversely affected by skin bleaching creams. The hydroquinone caused a worsening in some skin diseases. In fact, of the 368 women tested, most had a worsening or even introduction of skin diseases upon using the bleaching product.

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Uneven Coloring

Depending how you apply the product, you could find a mottled or uneven result from sloppy application. The uneven coloring may also be the result of uneven pigmentation on your skin. This uneven coloring could make your age spots appear to be worse, or cause some of your skin to remain darker than other areas.

Impaired Healing

If you use bleaching cream on your skin, you could be impairing your skin's ability to heal when suffering from an injury, lesion or rash. A study performed by the Dermatology Unit, Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, Lagos, Nigeria and published in a 2008 issue of the International Journal of Dermatology found that bleaching creams impaired the wound healing ability in African subjects.

Dryness, Redness and Burning

The ingredients in bleaching cream, namely the hydroquinone, is a fairly caustic substance. Drugs.com notes that some of the known side effects for hydroquinone included redness, peeling, a rash, dryness and burning where you've applied the cream. That's why bleaching cream should be purchased and used under the strict supervision of a dermatologist.

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References

Demand Media