Skin bleaching, which is normally associated with women is now practiced by men, especially the young ones.
According to Professor Edmund Delle, Director of Rabito Clinic, in Accra, six out of 16 men bleach their skin; a situation he finds worrying.
He said men bleach to attract the opposite sex while religious leaders who also bleach do so to attract the fairer sex.
He said some soaps and creams used for bleaching caused numerous effects, but the commonest are, ulcer of the skin which leads to cancer; mercury and lead in most bleaching creams when dissolved into the blood causes kidney failure, diabetes, infertility in both men and women, leukaemia, dark pores, quick aging, nauseating smells, brain, liver and hormonal infections which would result in death.
He could not mention specific bleaching creams since people mix different creams and soaps for the act, but said the commonest on the market are menobenzose, tranexamic acid, Peau Claire creams, hydroquinone creams, kojic acid and mandelic acid.
He recounted some unpleasant situations where he had to sew and treat some wounds for his patients and said, there were skin breakages at some points due to bleaching, which made the treatment difficult.
Melanin, he said, is the pigment that gives human skin, hair and eyes their colour, and added that both dark-skinned and light-skinned people have the same quantity of melanin in their skin. With black people, however, melanin covers the whole epidermis which is the outer part of the skin, but with white skinned people, it is located under the epidermis.
Bleaching therefore removes the melanin on top of the outer skin and renders it white in outlook; an act which is easier among black people than whites.
According to him, bleaching gives a type of skin colour which makes one easily recognizable among dark skinned people and had highly been misinterpreted as an act of beauty and a status symbol in most societies.
He explained that the source of bleaching could not be traced, but the act was at a higher rate in South Africa, during apartheid system, where dark skinned people resorted to the method to look fairer so as to avoid being discriminated against.
He bemoaned the excessive bleaching in beauty pageants and said the diplomatic name used in such circumstances is skin toning.
“Can you imagine what would happen to a market woman who sits under the open sun in the market to sell her wares but bleaches?” he asked.
He urged people to eat healthy diets, consume more fruit and vegetables and use moisturizer creams on the skin to keep it fresh arid beautiful instead of bleaching