CARIBBEAN: Bajans warned about skin whitening creams

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BARBADOS TODAY – Worried about a “surge” in the use of skin whitening creams here, the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) has confiscated several brands of the product from cosmetic store shelves, warning Barbadians that these creams may also cause a variety of complications.

In a statement released through the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), the BDS said it had acted under the instructions of the Barbados Pharmacy Council when it confiscated the products deemed to contravene sections of the Pharmacy Act, which prohibits their sale without a prescription from a locally registered doctor, and mandates dispensing under the supervision of a pharmacist.

“There has been a surge in the use of steroidal creams to lighten the skin. The creams are being sold in some beauty supply stores in Barbados. These products are given various names designed to attract attention as beautifying agents, without any warning of the dangers of using them,” the statement said.

It warned that these products contain prescription-strength steroid ingredients, such as Clobetasol Propionate and Betamethasone, which lighten the appearance by thinning the skin.

“This thinning of the skin can lead to acne, and make it easier for bacteria to infect the skin,” it stressed.

Among the possible complications listed by the BDS are atrophy, which is the wasting away at the site of application; rosacea, a condition in which certain facial blood vessels enlarge, giving the cheeks and nose a flushed appearance; irritancy and allergy.

It also advised that the internal absorption of topical steroids could cause a mild Cushing’s syndrome reaction, or could suppress the patient’s own cortisol supply.

Absorption of steroids could also present weight gain, fluid retention or an increase in the white blood cell count, the BGIS statement said.

Among the products which have been removed from the shelves of cosmetic stores and which the public is urged not to use are Victoria Lady Papaya Crème, Edguard Gel Forte 30gms, and Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream.

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