Malawi women warned over skin-lightening creams:It can cause cancer, says Poisons Board

The Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Board has warned people especially women against using products that contain corticosteroid as cosmetics because they risk suffering from skin cancer after prolonged use.

An official from the board, Chrissy Chulu, sounded the warning on Friday at Mzuzu University during the com¬memoration of World Intel¬lectual Property Day where they displayed some of the abused products and counter¬feit medicines.

Chulu said many people especially women use the products ignorantly to lighten their skin. She said most of the abused products are medicines not body cream for skin lightening. Corticosteroid is a synthetic drug used to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions on the body.

Some of the abused products that contain corticosteroid were Caro Light, Montclaire, Epiderm Cream, Epiderm Lotion, Betasol, Top Lemon, Fair & Beautiful Cream, Lemonvate Cream, Dermotyl Lotion and Clear Essence Cream.

Skin bleaching comes with hazardous health consequences.
Skin bleaching comes with hazardous health consequences.

“These are medicines and not skin lightening cream. They are supposed to be used by those with skin problems for a few days following advice by a physician.

“The problem is that some women are using them daily to lighten their skin. What they should know is that the lighten¬ing is a result of removed melanin caused by the prolonged use of these products,” she said.

Melanin is a dark brown or black pigment that is naturally present to varying degrees in the skin, hair and eyes that gives them their colour.

Chulu said that the prolonged use of the products removes melanin that prevents Ultraviolet light found in sunlight from damaging the skin and cause some cancers.

“We are not saying these products are totally bad. These are medicines. When people have skin problems, they should first seek medical advice for the product that can best suit them,” she said.

Chulu further advised fellow women to appreciate natural beauty and use ordinary body lotions or creams that do not bleach the skin.

“We are concerned with the safety of our general population. That’s why we came here to tell people that they should not use these products as body cream,” she said.

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