Skin bleaching is a common cosmetic technique used to brighten the skin. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, the skin bleaching market is expected to reach $31.2 billion in revenue by 2024.
Skin bleaching happens by lowering the amount of melanin, a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes that sets the tone of the skin.
The process of lightening the skin includes numerous active ingredients that can help lighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation and acne spots. Vitamin C and niacinamide reduce melanin production and address hyperpigmentation; retinol can accelerate the skin turnover process, making it more sensitive to the sun; and hydroquinone is a depigmentation agent present in various skin bleaching products.
However, skin bleaching can be dangerous as it can lead to side effects such as skin irritation, redness, burning, dryness, damage to the skin, and discoloration.
Here are five disadvantages of skin bleaching:
Certain skin bleaching products may contain hazardous levels of mercury, causing numbness, hypertension, weariness, sensitivity to light, kidney failure, and neurological symptoms like tremors, memory loss, and irritability.
Skin bleaching can cause blue-black pigmentation, and those who use it for extended periods of time or all over their bodies are more likely to develop it as a side effect.
Mercury-containing skin bleaching products may cause nephrotic syndrome, a kidney condition that leads to an excessive amount of protein being excreted in the urine.
Steroid acne can be caused by creams containing corticosteroids and manifest as painful lumps, whiteheads, blackheads, red pimples, and acne scars.
Dermatitis is a rash caused by allergic reactions or chemical exposure that causes swelling, dry, scaly skin, hives, blisters, ulcers, and redness of the skin.
People with sensitive, dry, chapped, or irritated skin issues should avoid skin bleaching. Experts advise not to bleach often, and skin bleaching should be done at night as it is beneficial for skin recovery and healing. Avoid bleaching during the day due to the sun's rays.
A person can safely treat hyperpigmented skin if they follow dermatologist-recommended procedures and stay away from harmful products.