The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has issued a warning to Nigerians, urging them to avoid the use of skin bleaching creams containing mercuric compounds. The agency has linked the use of such products to complex health issues, including kidney disease and skin cancer. Pharmacist Ebele Anto, the deputy director in charge of cosmetics and medical devices, drug evaluation and research at NAFDAC, made the announcement at the North-East Zonal Sensitisation Workshop for Borno and Yobe States Journalists on the Dangers of Bleaching Creams and Regulatory Control in Maiduguri.
Anto revealed that many of the bleaching products available on the market contain mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids, which have been shown to cause kidney disease and severe skin cancer, among other health problems. She added that the extent of the danger depends on how long someone has been using the products and where they are being applied. The ingredients used in the products are also a determining factor in the risk level.
“Skin bleaching reduces the concentration or production of melanin in the skin, melanin is a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. The amount of melanin in your skin is mostly determined by genetics,” Anto explained. “The message we are passing is that people should desist from using bleaching creams or products because of these dangers.”
Anto encouraged people to accept their unique skin color as a gift and embrace it as a part of their culture. She reminded everyone that black is beautiful and that they should take pride in their black skin. The use of skin bleaching products has been banned in Ghana, Cameroon, and other African countries due to the associated risks.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, added that the agency has taken decisive action to combat the spread of skin bleaching products. The secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, acting on the resolutions of the Senate, wrote to NAFDAC stressing the need for stringent regulatory actions to stem the rampant use of bleaching creams. NAFDAC has since carried out sensitization campaigns and enforcement actions, including intelligence gathering and raids in trade fair complexes, leading to the seizure and destruction of violative products.
NAFDAC has called on the media to help combat the menace of bleaching creams usage by educating the public on the dangers of such products. Sensitization workshops have been organized for journalists in different parts of Nigeria, including Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Jos, Port-Harcourt, Enugu, and Maiduguri.
In conclusion, Nigerians are urged to avoid using skin bleaching creams and products, embrace their natural skin color, and prioritize their health. By doing so, they can protect themselves from the risks associated with skin bleaching products.