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Photodamage on the background of chronic use of skin lightening cosmetics


College of Medicine of the University of Lagos Dermatology Unit, Department of Medicine

Chronic use of skin lightening cosmetics needs to be examined as a significant predisposing factor to photodamage in the dark skinned, with probably comparable health effects to cosmetic tanning in the light skinned individuals. Cosmetic tanning is a deliberate induction of facultative pigmentation by light skinned individuals for the purpose of fashion by intentional sun exposure, sunbathing and use of sun beds (artificial tanning devices) (1, 2). These have been convincingly linked with sunburn, photoageing, malignant melanoma and non melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) (3, 4)
Use of skin lightening cosmetics (bleaching agents) in dark skinned individuals, alter skin pigmentation by various mechanisms, leading to a lighter skin colour and predisposing the dark skinned individuals to more photodamage.
Constitutive dark skin is found predominantly in Equatorial Africa, Asia and amongst the African Americans. It has been confirmed to be an evolutionary adaptation to environmental ultraviolet radiation (UVR), and is protective against the high ultraviolet A and B radiations from the sun in the tropics and subtropics (5-8). Melanin ...

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