Changing skin colour has health risks - Dermatologist | Sunday Observer
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Changing skin colour has health risks - Dermatologist

30 January, 2022

The skin whitening market has increased in billions. Using creams and other systemic preparations to get a fairer skin tone over the last few years has led to a fairness craze among the young females especially, with fairness agents being freely available in the market and online platforms and advertisements through social media which have dramatically increased the trend. 

To get a better understanding of this new disturbing trend, The Sunday Observer spoke to Consultant Dermatologist, and Secretary to the Cosmetic Dermatology Subcommittee of Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists Dr. Januka Galahitiyawa.

She said, “Skin lightening agents affect melanin which is the sun protector of the skin. Sri Lankans like us are born with a darker skin shade to overcome the bad effects of the tropical sun. Many products can cause serious health hazards. Most of these products are not registered by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority. They can contain heavy metals such as Mercury, lead and arsenic, hydroquinone such as bleaching agents, and potent steroids causing various side effects.

Asked what the side effects were, she said, “They can cause, short term side effects such as,

 1. Allergies and dermatitis of the skin

2. Increased sensitivity to sun exposure

 3. Instead of fairness of skin, it can cause dark patches (brown or black) or white patches on the skin.

 4. Steroids in topical applications can cause severe acne, discolouration of the skin, thinning of the skin, stretch marks, increased tendency to get different skin infections (viral, bacterial or fungal) and increasing the severity of the infections, increase the growth of facial hair on females.

She said that when these applications are used long-term, they can cause premature skin ageing, kidney and liver-related issues, cancers of skin and other organs. “Today, glutathione is becoming popular as a skin lightening agent, though there is no proper scientific evidence to prove the effect of glutathione on skin lightening. Creams and tablets causing skin fairness are limited.

Injection forms of glutathione are not recommended for skin lightening due to serious side effect profiles, including allergic reactions and skin cancers. If you use these agents during the pregnancy it could cause harmful effects to the baby. Think twice before using skin lightening agents and instead learn to admire healthy skin, not ‘white’ skin. Look after your skin with tender loving care. Healthy skin reflects a healthy body.

Her advice to our female readers on maintaining a beautiful skin without skin lightening agents  was, “  The Colour of beauty is the colour you own. (Sudu Kalu Thalelu Api Okkoma Dakum Kalu)

Asked what the Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists was doing to promote this new approach on skin colour, she said, “The Cosmetic Subcommittee of the Sri

The Lanka College of Dermatologists has already begun a public awareness program to promote natural skin colour and to educate on health hazards that can be caused by skin lightening agents. If a reader wants to contact us our link is: #colourofbeautyisthecolouryouown #everycolourisbeautiful #SLCD