Estimation of mercury and hydroquinone content in skin whitening creams and the potential risks to the health of women in Lahore, Pakistan
Keywords:White complexion, obsession, skin whitening creams, skin disorders, Hydroquinone, Mercury.
AbstractWomen in Pakistan are obsessed with the concept of glowing whitish complexion. Fairness creams contain very high amount of mercury and hydroquinone. These act by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme responsible for melanin production. The study is conducted with aim to detect the prevalence of skin bleaching in Lahore and determine the levels of hydroquinone and mercury in some locally manufactured brands of skin whitening creams. In first part of study the prevalence of skin bleaching in Lahore was estimated. In second part samples of locally manufactured skin whitening creams were purchased. Physiochemical analysis was done. Percent hydroquinone content was determined by U.V. Spectrophotometer, while the concentration of Mercury was analyzed using Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Prevalence of skin bleaching was estimated to be ~50% in target population. The major motivating factors driving women towards this practice are personal satisfaction and confidence, getting better jobs and good marriage proposals. The practice has resulted in higher prevalence of skin disorders among young females; common being acne, uneven skin tone, facial hairs and scars. All samples were of acidic pH. Hydroquinone content was detected to be in range of 0.000064-0.039%. Mercury content was determined to be in range of 3.6-240 ppm. We should feel free to be confident in the complexion provided by nature and stop the use of any skin whitening product, as in long term they will only make our complexion much worse.
Ebanks PJ, Wickett RR and Boissy ER. Mechanisms Regulating Skin Pigmentation: The Rise and Fall of Complexion Coloration. Int. J. Mol. Sci.; 2009; 10: 4066-4087.
Naidoo L, Khoza N and Dlova CN. A Fairer Face, a Fairer Tomorrow? A Review of Skin Lighteners. MDPI J. Cosmet.; 2016; 3(33): 1-11.
Islam KS, Ahmed HS, Karim E and Amin AM. Fair Factor. The Whiter the Better. Str. Wknd. Mag; 2006; 5(94): 1-2.
Goon P and Craven A. Whose Debt? Globalisation and White Facing in Asia. Intrsc.: Gen. His. Cul.; 2003; 1(2): [Online] Available at: http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue9/gooncraven.html.
Bantayehu N. Assessment of Over-the-Counter Utilization of Topical Corticosteroids in Addis Ababa. (B Pharm thesis) Department of Pharmaceuticals and Social Pharmacy; Addis Ababa University; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 2015.
Barr RD, Woodger BM and Rees PH. Levels of Mercury in Urine Correlated with the Use of Skin Lightening Creams. Am J. Clin. Pathol.; 1973; 59: 36-40.
Anwar M, Ando T, Maaz A, Ghani S, Munir M, Ihtesham-ud-din Qureshi, Naeem S, Tsuji M, Wakamiya J, Nakano A and Akiba S. Scalp Hair Mercury Concentrations in Pakistan. Env Sci: Int. J. Env. Phy. Tox.; 2007; 14(4): 167-175.
Bocca B, Pino A, Alimonti A and Forte G. Toxic Metals Contained in Cosmetics: A Status Report. Reg. Tox. Pharacol.; 2014; 68: 447–467.
Baodi WY, Brandes JM and Yannai S. In-vitro Exposure to Mercury and Cadmium alters term Human Placental Membrane Fluidity. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol.; 1992; 116: 17-23.
Olumide YM, Akinkugde AO and Altraide D. Complications of Chronic Use of Skin Lightening Cosmetics. Int. J. Dermatol.; 2008; 47: 344-353.
Seliem AF and Khalil HM. Sensitive Spectrophotometric Method for Determination of Hydroquinone in Some Common Cosmetics in Najran Region in K.S.A. Ult. Chem.; 2013; 9(2): 221-228.
US Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration. Skin Bleaching Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 2006; 71: 51146-51155 (codified at 21 CFR Part 310).
Westerhof W and Kooeyrs J. Hydroquinone and its Analogues in Dermatology-a Potential Health Risk. J. Cos. Dermatol.; 2005; 1(4): 55-59.
Parvez S, Kang M and Chung HS. Survey and Mechanism of Skin Depigmenting and Lightening Agents. Phyto. Res.; 2006; 20: 921-934.
Melisa CS and Jay WM. FDA Proposes Hydroquinone Ban. J. Cul. Afr. Wmn. Stds.; 2009; 14: 5-16.
Gul S, Monazzam A, Rashid H and Ali MS. Hidden Killers for Women: Mercury. Steroids and Hydroquinone in Skin Whitening and Bleach Creams. J. Phar. Pharma. Sci.; 2014; 2(1): 9-17.
Askari HS, Sajid A, Faran Z and Sarwar ZS. Skin-Lightening Practice among Women Living in Lahore: Prevalence, Determinants and User’s Awareness. Int. Con. Buss. Manag.; 2013; 1(10): 1-14.
Ekpunobi UE, Okonkwo EO, Udeh CV, Ogbuagu AS and Duru CB. Determination of Hydroquinone and Mercury Concentrations in some Skin Lightening Lotions and Creams Sold in Southeastern Nigeria. Intern J. Biotech. Rsrch; 2014; 2(1): 11-16.
Terer EK, Magut H and Mule S. UV-VIS analysis and determination of hydroquinone in body lotions and creams sold in retail outlets in Baraton, Kenya. Bara. Interdis. Res. J.; (2013); 3(1):23-28.
Ali WS and Khwaja AM. Assessment of Prevalence of Health Complications and Skin Diseases due to Mercury Containing Skin Whitening Creams use among the Population at Selected Cities of Pakistan. Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan. 2016.