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Warning about the dangers of skin lightening creams

Skin lightening products can be dangerous for users when they contain hydroquinone or mercury ..., the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned.

People using products with hydroquinone have experienced side effects including rash, facial swelling , and permanent skin discoloration. Meanwhile, mercury is highly toxic, which can damage the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes.

The skin lightening products are marketed as treatments for uneven skin tone, age spots, freckles, wrinkles … even acne. Companies may describe skin-lightening products as products that whiten, reduce dark spots, lighten or whiten skin, etc., often sold as creams, lotions, etc., according to the FDA.

These products limit the skin's production of melanin (responsible for skin color, hair, etc.), but hydroquinone and mercury can build up in the body over time.

Be wary of potential dangers in skin-whitening products containing hydroquinone.

Skin care products containing hydroquinone should be used only with a doctor's prescription. These products cannot be sold over-the-counter. Mercury has been banned for use in skin-lightening products, the FDA said.

It is known that in April 2022 , the FDA sent warning letters to 12 companies selling over-the-counter (OTC) skin lightening products containing hydroquinone that did not meet the requirements to be sold legally . as an OTC drug and state: These OTC skin lightening products containing the active ingredient hydroquinone are unapproved drugs and have not been shown to be safe and effective.

The FDA has received reports of serious side effects including skin rash, facial swelling, and skin discoloration from the use of skin lightening products containing hydroquinone.

As a result, the FDA recommends that consumers refrain from using these products due to the potential harm they can cause, including potentially permanent skin pigmentation disorders. Users should talk to their dermatologist about treatment options for certain skin conditions including dark spots or skin aging...

According to the FDA, there are no FDA-approved or legal OTC skin lightening products on the market. Currently, tri-luma is the only FDA-approved drug that contains hydroquinone. This is a prescription product approved for the short-term treatment of dark spots associated with moderate to severe melasma on the face. Tri-luma should only be used under a doctor's supervision.

Consumers should check product labels and avoid those containing hydroquinone or mercury. Mercury may be listed on the label as mercury chloride, calomel, or Hg.

Illegal products may be incorrectly labeled. Therefore, users should avoid products with manual labels, or no labels, the FDA said.

Hydroquinone is a topical skin bleaching agent used in the cosmetic treatment of hyperpigmented skin conditions. There are different preparations including creams, emulsions, gels, lotions and solutions.

Hydroquinone works to lighten the skin by interfering with the production of melanin by melanocytes. Hydroquinone is generally well tolerated, however side effects can include: dryness, irritation, itching, erythema, and mild irritant contact dermatitis. Prolonged use of hydroquinone has been associated with dyspigmentation (a blue-black pigment with acne-like papules on the skin)...

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