Skin Bleaching: Is It Really Worth It?

The bleaching product industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that has kept growing for several years. It’s unfortunate that this growth has been off the back of the colorism and “white-skin standard” that has held several countries of the world by their necks for a long time. Many people that desire to lighten their skin do so because of the advantages they believe to be attached to “white-skin” including economic and social benefits.

Yet, the major question that needs to be answered remains whether it is worth it to pay the price of one’s health and in some cases, one’s life, for the sake of skin bleaching.

Impacts of bleaching on health

Lightening the skin is usually not without dire consequences on health. Both the skin and internal organs get impacted negatively throughout and after the process of bleaching. Bleaching can be potentially dangerous and is associated with several complications. These complications range from dermatologic consequences to more serious health risks including diabetes, skin cancer, fetal toxicity, renal damage and liver failure.

Skin impacts

The skin is mostly the first to suffer and especially suffers the most in bleaching. Bleaching products that contain corticosteroids can result in a breakout of acne. With long term use, this acne may begin to spread out across the back, arms, chest and other parts of the body. Huge, red and painful pimples are sometimes implicated in this situation. Another common associated skin condition in bleaching is exogenous ochronosis. This is a condition whereby there is a blue-black pigmentation of the skin. This occurs when a person has been using hydroquinone containing bleaching products for a very long time. Several other such conditions include contact dermatitis (usually as a result of sensitivity to certain chemicals), eczema, scaly skin, itching, burning and blisters.

Skin cancer

This is the hallmark of the impact bleaching can have on the skin. Due to the thinning of the skin that results from bleaching, the body is unable to protect itself from excess UV rays. Unfortunately, many of the people who engage in bleaching live in tropical areas where there is high exposure to sun rays. This greatly places them at risk of skin cancer. Also, skin infections that spread, fester and do not heal quickly can contribute to the development of skin cancer in people who use skin lightening products 

Body Odor

Hydroquinone based bleaching treatments majorly are responsible for body odor in people who bleach. The heavy damage to the skin by these products can result in the emission of a foul odor from the body

Kidney Damage

Many people who use bleaching treatments are not aware of the serious impacts they might have on the kidneys. Nephrotic syndrome which is a condition whereby the kidney experiences difficulty excreting excess waste and water can result from use of lightening products. Symptoms usually include foamy urine, swollen hands and feet and fatigue. Consistent use of these products can result in kidney failure whereby the kidneys completely lose function.


This is known as a condition whereby the bones begin to become fragile and susceptible to breaking. This is usually as a result of corticosteroid based bleaching treatments. 


Hydroquinone and corticosteroids usually found in these products affect the endocrine system in such a way that can result in the development of diabetes in people who use these products.


Some of the toxic chemicals found in skin lightening products can sometimes accumulate in the ovary. Also, some products affect hormonal balance in such a way that could tamper with fertility. Bleaching especially in pregnant women can also affect the fetus’ and result in abnormal development, this can result in spontaneous termination of the pregnancy.


The toxic chemicals employed in skin bleaching can impair can induce psychosis in some cases.

Systemic Hypertension

Corticosteroids based bleaching treatments especially can affect blood pressure and water and salt regulation in the body.

A word from Healthfacts

Bleaching often becomes addictive because the skin returns to its original color once it is stopped. Unfortunately, this is what keeps fueling the industry. The search for newer and more effective skin lightening products continues over the course of life of a person that is bleaching their skin. The constant exposure to these toxic chemicals does no good for a person’s health and quality of life.

Newer products for skin bleaching are being introduced over time. The use of intravenous bleaching products including glutathione has been on the rise. Some of these products such as glutathione do not yet have sufficient studies done to ascertain their safety of use especially intravenously. Loving one’s skin and abandoning the “white-skin standard” is a lot cheaper than the heavy price one has to pay with their health for the sake of bleaching. 


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