Skin whitening creams can make women infertile and sprout hair on their backs, doctors have warned. Medics fear that the creams, which are sold under the counter in cosmetics shops, have hormones that can also damage the liver and kidneys.
News of the health dangers means that thousands of women across the country could be at risk. One patient, a 28-year-old woman of African origin, had been unable to conceive for more than 18 months and became clinically obese. She reported having severe stretch marks on her arms, back, abdomen and legs, her skin became thin and bruised easily. She also developed excess hair on her back.
Doctors initially diagnosed her with Cushing syndrome, a condition caused by excess steroid hormones in the blood – yet tests revealed that her blood contained acceptable levels of naturally occurring hormones. She was able to receive treatment only after she admitted that she had used two tubes of the powerful lotion each week, for more than seven years.
Dr Tricia Tan, one of the authors of the report, which was published in the medical journal, the Lancet last week, was a member of the medical team which treated the woman.
`Patients are often reluctant to admit that they have used skin- lightening creams – especially if these are supplied illegally; she said. ‘Similarly, doctors can be unaware of the need to enquire. But the market is worth millions of pounds a year in the UK alone and patients are typically unaware of the risks.
Skin lightening creams usually contain hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent that is banned
in UK cosmetic products, as well as high doses of steroids.
`This is the most extreme example I’ve seen; consultant endocrinologist Dr Tony Goldstone told New Nation. The steroids found in these creams are dangerous, especially if they are used in high doses over long periods. They affect the immune system and the body