SKIN BLEACHING: ABUSE AND USES OF COTICOSTEROID CREAMS
What are steroids creams? These are creams that contained hormonal substances used in treatment of some skin condition. One of their side effect is bleaching, so many of our ladies and some men are misled into using these creams to ’tone, bleach or to make their skin lighter. This leads to more harm than good as all other side effect of the cream will manifest. Examples include pimples, unwanted hair growth in women, weight gain, diabetes, stretch marks, dark patches on the affected area etc. Some marketers have encouraged the use of these creams as bleaching agents by giving names such as Sowhite, pure-white, fair-white etc. These products are advertised with pictures of beautiful ladies with smooth and fair skin in order to entice the buyer. They ignore the fact that these products highly potent steroids, that is, betamethasone and clobetasol. These steroids should not be applied on the face or used on the body for a prolonged. In fact, they should only be used to treat some skin conditions. The facial skin is very thin leading to high absorption of the drug in to the body.
Many steroids are being sold and used wrongly as over-the-counter medicine/cosmetics for pimples (acne vulgaris) and dark spots. These products should not be applied on the face and used without medical consultation. There are those that will testify that their pimples worsen and persist while using these creams.
Another important issue that leads to steroid abuse is the combination with antibiotics and antifungal. Patient in the bead to treat a fungal or bacterial skin infection is mandated to apply steroids as well. If the patient is unfortunate with his/her self-diagnosis and self-treatment, not only do the skin lesions persist, they are also disfigured such that by the time they see a dermatologist, making the right diagnosis becomes difficult. The Nigerian Association of Dermatologists (NAD) strongly recommends a stop to the sale of highly potent steroid in open markets and supermarkets as cosmetics as it is endangering the life of the society. The sale should be monitored in the pharmacies. This call for action from NAFDAC, Pharmaceutical society of Nigeria, SON, consumer protection agencies and all relevant bodies to regulate and check the selling, use and abuse of these creams. They are medications like any other drug and should not be found over the cosmetics shelves of our supermarkets. Awareness campaign on the use and side effects of these drugs should be widely circulated to reach our youth who are the main target and major consumer of these good but misleadingly abused drugs.
Take home message - See a specialist if you have any skin problem, not all creams even when prescribed should be use continuously especially over the face, armpits and other skin fold areas, read the inserted instruction on the uses and how to use any cream bought.
“Accept your skin colour as it is, do not challenge nature otherwise nature will challenge you back.”