130 million Nigerians endanger their skins

Nigeria is acknowledged as a country whose citizens endanger their lives in the constant use of mercury in skin bleaching cream and soap. The World Health Organization (WHO), who made the disclosure, went a step further to say that Nigeria is ranked first among the nations of the world in the use of skin lightening products. The WHO report reveals that over 77 per cent of Nigerians, about 130 million people use such products on a regular basis.

The report, which came into the open on the WHO website, explains further that Nigeria is followed by Togo with 59 per cent; South Africa, 35 per cent; and Mali, 25 per cent. Obviously troubled by this people’s resolve to change their naturally-endowed identity gift, the world body cited the adverse effects of inorganic mercury-a common ingredient found in skin lightening soap and cream.

WHO warns that skin lightening soap, cream and cosmetics like eye makeup, cleansing products and mascara could contain mercury. The effects of inorganic mercury on people who use the product include kidney damage, reduction in skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. Other likely effects are irritation, skin rashes, swelling of the skin, pain tremors, seizures and memory loss. Once the chemicals get absorbed into the skin and enter the blood stream, the complications are worse.

Carolyn Vickers of WHO Chemical Safety Department notes that mercury in soap and cream eventually enters waste water and then enters the food chain as highly toxic methyl mercury. The mercury enters environment, where it becomes methylated, and enters the food chain as highly toxic methylmercury in fish. Pregnant women who consume fish containing methyl mercury transfer the mercury to their foetuses that can later result in neurological deficits in children.

WHO report adds that lightening soap and cream are commonly used in Africa and Asian nations and by dark-skinned populations in Europe and North America. Mercury salts achieve the new complexion objective by inhibiting the formation of melanin, resulting in a lighter skin tone.
The information available in skin lightening soap, cream and cosmetics has  shown that it is not only those who use these products and services that are in danger of suffering the consequences of the harmful practice, but the environment, the food chain, fish and innocent children born. Skin lightening and other practices associate with cosmetics services are self-denigrating. They only show that those who engage in them are not proud of their God-given endowment, suggesting that they regret their biological make-up. This is absolutely wrong and condemnable.

Young women who engage in skin bleaching end up achieving the opposite result as it turns out that they look despicable, and nauseate their intended admirers.
Many Nigerian women who bleach their skins confess that they do so because men prefer light-complexioned women. Young women, especially those in the movie industry have risen to defend their bleaching, because fair-skinned women have better chance of featuring in Nollywood.
We believe strongly that God has made every human being, whether light or dark, equal in his sight. Any attempt to change one’s complexion is condemnable and should be discouraged. The frightening health implications of bleaching and other cosmetic practices should be pointed out to children and adults alike. Government should study the WHO report and design a policy that will help to discourage bleaching.
The action should not only be seen from the perspective of the people who bleach but the danger their indulgence poses to the survival of all Nigerians, especially the health of innocent children.