Is Skin Bleaching Safe?
Skin bleaching, whitening or lightening, is a cosmetic process that alters skin tone pigmentation. This skin treatment can be used to even patchy skin discoloration like melasma, reduce freckles and age spots caused by sun damage and to generally attain a lighter and more youthful appearance. Skin bleaching can also be used in the treatment, and improvement, of unwanted skin blemishes and acne. More recently, the lightening of skin tone has also become a popular, and acceptable, cosmetic process favoured by those in the world of celebrity.
What is Skin Bleaching?Cosmetic treatments that improve and enhance the appearance and health of skin are widely available. The bleaching, or whitening, of skin is an external process that helps even out discoloration, blemishes and sun damage, and this treatment has become a popular choice for those seeking body perfection. Skin bleaching is the practice of using chemical substances on the skin, in order to lessen the concentration of melanin and to help achieve a more even skin complexion.
Skin bleaching can be successfully used to depigment an area of skin – i.e. a birthmark or dark coloured mole – so that it matches surrounding skin. Skin conditions like vitiligo can be treated with skin bleaching, so that unaffected skin may be lightened to even skin colour and tone that will then provide a more uniform skin appearance.
Types of BleachingCombination skin altering treatments, that provide the use of topical creams and gels alongside a prescription retinoid, are more common. Cosmetic skin exfoliants, chemical peels and laser treatment can also be used in the bleaching or whitening of the skin.
Skin bleaching products include creams that may be applied to smaller areas of skin discolouration. This type of spot treatment is generally used as a method of reducing complexion patchiness and blemishes and is not an effective means of minimising more wide spread pigmentation concerns.
Chemical PeelsA chemical peel is also known as chemexfoliation or derma-peeling and is a cosmetic process that improves and smoothes the texture of the facial skin. Chemicals are used to slough off dead skin so that regenerated skin is visible. There are many different types of chemical peels available and these include Alpha hydroxy acid peels, Beta hydroxy acid peels and Retionic and Trichloroacetic acid peels. A chemical skin lightening procedure should always be performed by a dermatologist, esthetician or plastic surgeon.
During the chemical peeling treatment a solution is applied to the face, or area of skin to be treated. This chemical solution causes the skin to blister so that the surface may be slothed of dead skin. The regenerated skin beneath will initially be sensitive but will appear more smooth and even in appearance.
Skin Bleaching IngredientsMany skin bleaching and whitening products contain a form of toxic mercury as an active ingredient. The use of mercury however, has been banned in many countries, and it is therefore important to research products and procedures with care.
Hydroquinone, that has potent antioxidant abilities, is primarily used as a key ingredient in reducing the production of melanin. This potent ingredient is known to effectively help prevent sun and hormone damage to the skin. There are also other forms of natural skin lightening sources available, which include Uva ursi extract, Mitracarpus scaber extract and other mulberry derivatives.
Skin bleaching, as a cosmetic process, is achieved by using a combination of chemicals, acids and other depigmentation ingredients so it is therefore important to fully examine and understand the ingredients, as well as the procedure, before embarking on treatment.
Skin Bleaching Caution
As with most cosmetic treatments side effects may be experienced by some people who undergo skin bleaching procedures and/or use skin whitening topical creams and gels. These may include severe drying, cracking and itching of the skin, melasma and mercury poisoning. Pregnant women should take extra care, if considering this type of skin treatment, as it has been known to cause fetal toxicity in some cases. Liver failure and skin cancer are more extreme side effects of skin bleaching treatment but have nonetheless been reported.
If you are experiencing skin damage, as a result of a skin bleaching treatment, it is advisable to seek medical advice promptly. Emollient creams may help reduce cracking, drying and itching of the skin although the hyperpigmentation caused by the skin bleaching treatment is not curable.