In the last several years, much media attention has been aimed at the question: “Are bleaching creams safe?” The answer is not a simple yes or no. Bleaching cream or skin lightening cream does have useful purposes. Moreover, it can be a safe and effective product when used in accordance with the instructions of a board-certified dermatologist. The problem with many skin bleaching products is the tendency to misuse or overuse them.
Bleaching agent use is especially common in certain regions of the world like India, Asia and Africa, and in many of these areas, its use is unregulated. This leads to a higher risk of unwanted side effects from inappropriate usage.
More Americans are experimenting with bleaching cream. Some concentrations of bleaching cream are sold over the counter in the U.S. Sometimes these products are purchased online as well. This means that customers are not always buying safe and effective products that are legal for use in America. Counterfeit skin bleaching products and other products that are made using ingredients that are illegal in the U.S. are routinely sold in some retail shops and online. When buying from these sources, it is impossible to know precisely what ingredients were used or how powerful they are.
That is a very real problem. Bleaching cream that is made in other countries often contains mercury, a dangerous ingredient that is outlawed for use in skin lightening cream in the U.S. The routine use of mercury-based products can bring a host of physical and psychiatric problems. Damage to the nervous system, kidney disease and neurological disorders are just the beginning of the complications.
Another potentially dangerous ingredient that is sometimes found in counterfeit or foreign skin bleaching products is clobetasol propionate, an especially powerful steroid. Qualified dermatologists may sometimes prescribe this substance on a limited basis, but certainly not for application on the sensitive facial skin. Nonetheless, countless people use precisely this steroid on their faces every day, and the results can be painful and difficult to correct.
Even hydroquinone, an ingredient doctors trust in bleaching cream, may be harmful if it is misused. Most over-the-counter skin bleaching products that contain hydroquinone only have about a two percent concentration of the substance. A dermatologist may prescribe a bleaching cream with a stronger four to six percent concentration of hydroquinone but these, as well as the weaker drugstore formulations, are meant to be used for a maximum of two to three months at a time. Unfortunately, some people are applying these skin bleaching products for several months or even years. Just as concerning, they may use them across large portions of their skin instead of on smaller, more concentrated areas.
The complications that come from the misuse of skin bleaching products are many. In addition to the problems caused by the absorption of mercury into the body, prolonged use of other ingredients may include premature skin aging. People who have overused skin lightening cream may even be at an increased risk of skin cancer. Sometimes the skin becomes extremely thin and may be more likely to bruise. Stubborn acne is another unfortunate side effect. People who overuse skin bleaching products sometimes also achieve the opposite effect when their skin actually begins to become darker. The type of pigmentation that occurs with improper use of hydroquinone bleaching creams is unfortunately permanent, and very difficult to treat.
All of these complications may lead you to wonder: “Is skin bleaching safe under any circumstances?” The answer is, it can be. First, it’s important to work closely with a board-certified dermatologist. Your dermatologist can help you decide whether or not you even need a bleaching cream. These products can be effective when they are used precisely as directed by your doctor for conditions like melasma or for making sun spots or acne scars appear less noticeable. Your dermatologist will tell you precisely how and when to apply the skin bleaching topical treatment as well as letting you know how long the treatment should continue. If you do not vary from these instructions, then you should have a positive experience.
It’s important to understand that the skin bleaching cream that you’ll receive from your doctor’s prescription is absolutely genuine, authentic and safe. You won’t be given a counterfeit product or one that contains dangerous ingredients that are not legal in the U.S. It may not be possible to achieve the startling effects of those other products, but you will also likely not develop any dangerous side effects. That said, if you do notice irritation or other problems associated with the use of bleaching cream, it’s important to let your dermatologist know about it immediately as you may be having an allergic reaction.
If you’re wondering, “Are bleaching creams safe?” after all of the negative attention from the media, you’re not alone. Using any skin bleaching product is potentially dangerous when it is overused or not used in accordance with the instructions from your dermatologist. Anyone who has concerns about age spots, sun spots, acne scars or other unusual skin darkening should consider contacting a dermatologist. It may be possible to diminish their appearance, but it’s not a project you can undertake on your own.