Intended for healthcare professionals


Use of skin lightening creams

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 23 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6102

Use of skin lightening creams

I thank Professor Yetunde Olumide for bring this matter again to our
attention. I would like to add further signs that should make clinicians
suspect the use of bleaching agents.

Many people using bleaching agents often present with very dark
(almost black) skin around the joints of their fingers, toes, buttocks,
and sometimes ears that is in contradistinction with their very fair
complexions elsewhere.

Secondly, usually, the skin on the face (particularly around the eyes
and over the cheek bones) has thinned considerably and capillaries can
often be seen.

Thirdly, I have also noticed that in many middle aged people who have
used bleaching creams for many years, the periorbital skin starts to
darken with irregular margins creating what I call the 'bleach panda
effect'. The skin in this area stops responding to the bleaching effect
leaving the afflicted user looking like a panda with dark rings around
their eyes against a light complexion on the rest of the face. The 'bleach
panda effect' can be very disfiguring.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 February 2011
Associate Specialist in Psychiatry (Dr)
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust