Skin whitening creams: Popular in Pakistan, banned in Ivory Coast

Published: May 7, 2015
Doctors say lightening products can lead to hypertension and diabetes. STOCK IMAGE

Doctors say lightening products can lead to hypertension and diabetes. STOCK IMAGE

ABIDJAN: Ivory Coast has banned skin whitening creams, which are popular in many countries in Asia including Pakistan and India as well as in the Middle East, because of fears they cause lasting damage to health, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

“Cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams… that de-pigment the skin… are now forbidden,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ban affects whitening creams and lotions containing mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinine, a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs.

“The number of people with side effects caused by these medicines is really high,” said Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, warning that they could cause skin cancer.

Lightening products can also lead to hypertension and diabetes, said Elidje Ekra, a dermatologist at the Treichville university hospital in Abidjan.

Whitening creams have been popular for years among young African women, who see them as a way to make themselves more attractive.

The use of the creams is believed to be even more widespread in Nigeria.

Although there are no official figures of how many women use such products across Africa, billboards advertising the potentially deadly creams can be seen in cities across the continent.

“In our cultures, some people think women with light skin are the most beautiful. This beauty standard… pushes many girls to depigment their skin,” Ekra said.

“What we see in the media is the lighter one’s skin is, the better one’s life,” he added, referring to advertisements that fill the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s biggest city, showing models with lighter-than-average skin.

While the craze is most widespread among women, some men use the creams too, Ekra said.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Ali S
    May 7, 2015 - 5:44PM

    About time. Skin whitening creams should be banned here too. South Asia’s obsession with fair skin leads to unhealthy physical ideals and insecurity – ironically, most white people prefer tanned skin which is much closer to our natural skin tone.Recommend

  • Izaj
    May 8, 2015 - 8:07AM

    Wow, I thought we are white without the cream by Allah’s grace.Recommend

  • JSM
    May 8, 2015 - 10:25AM

    The secret of Pakistani’s beauty.Recommend

  • Patriotic Pakistani
    May 8, 2015 - 12:19PM

    PROPAGANDA AGAINST PAKISTANI PRODUCTS. The same thing happened with oranges in Dubai there was rumor in the market that there is a flying insect coming in oranges imported from Pakistan.Recommend

  • Mohammad
    May 8, 2015 - 12:40PM

    There are several products needs to be banned In Pakistan, stillman freckle cream is banned in uae but sold in Pakistan. Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)
    May 8, 2015 - 2:10PM

    Humanity needs a “soul whitening cream!”Recommend

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