An immunologist and Head, Department of Chemical Pathology, at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Ganiyu Arinola, has called for a ban on the importation of bleaching creams.
Mr. Arinola, who made the call on Wednesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Ibadan, said the measure was necessary to safeguard the health of Nigerians.
The professor described bleaching as the lightening of the skin or the loss of pigment.
According to him, bleaching creams weaken the immunity of the skin and to some extent, the body.
“The outermost skin layer (the epidermis) provides the first line of defence against pathogens. This skin layer is removed by skin bleaching creams.
“Commonly used bleaching creams are: Movate, Skin-light, Make-Me Light and many more that have flooded the Nigerian market,” he said.
Mr. Arinola said skin bleaching is practiced by black people of all ages, and both sexes, with higher prevalence among the young and unmarried, for fame or cosmetic purposes.
He said that bleaching was also due to misconceptions about the presumed superiority and desirability of fair skin over the dark skin.
The Chemical Pathology professor said that the disadvantage of bleaching was that the creams cause disruption in the normal immunologic functions of the skin.
“We carried out different studies at different times in the laboratory, on dogs, cockroaches, mites and mouse.
“The studies all showed that skin lightening creams caused disruption in the normal protective functions of the human skin and certain blood parameters
“I therefore urge those involved in this harmful practice to desist from doing so,” he advised.
Mr. Arinola said the availability and affordability of these bleaching creams did not help matter.
“There is need for more public awareness programmes to enlighten the Nigeria populace about the dangers involved in the practice of skin bleaching.
“The media could do more sensitization, information and enlightenment programmes to let the public know that the practice is not only destructive of the skin, but could also be a risk factor for many other skin diseases,” he said.