Bleaching during pregnancy: Is it safe?

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Are you wondering if skin bleaching during pregnancy has side effects? Read on to find out how lightening your skin during pregnancy can affect you and your unborn baby.

What is skin bleaching?

Skin bleaching, whitening or lightening all mean the same thing. According to the NHS, skin bleaching is a cosmetic procedure that people do to lighten their skin and achieve a paler or lighter skin tone.

The World Health Organisation has found that 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products.

Most people will embrace skin bleaching when they want to improve the appearance of birthmarks or dark patches like melasma. But generally, people who lighten their skin mostly do so to change their overall skin tone.

How does skin lightening work?

According to the NHS, skin bleaching reduces the concentration of melanin on the skin and slows down the production of melanin. Melanin refers to the pigment that gives the skin its dark colour. Melanin helps to protect the skin from the UV rays from the sun.

With consistent use of skin bleaching products, the skin becomes lighter as melanin reduces.

What are the skin Lightening options available

People who decide to bleach their skin usually have to think long and hard before they pick a method. Although the most popular method to bleach skin in Nigeria involves the use of skin lightening lotions or bleaching creams, there are also other methods available.

These include:

• Chemical peels

• Skin lightening creams

• Laser treatment

• Glutathione bleaching pills and injections

bleaching during pregnancy

Chemical peels for skin lightening

Chemical peels for skin lightening work differently from regular peels. This is just not a procedure to remove dead skin cells and reveal fresher, younger looking skin. With chemical peels skin bleaching during pregnancy, ingredients that inhibit the production of melanin are added to the chemicals. This results in a paler skin tone.

Laser skin bleaching

Laser resurfacing or laser peel uses concentrated beams of light to get rid of damaged skin. Once the upper layer of the skin, the epidermis, is removed, the heat from the laser stimulates the growth of new skin cells. Laser resurfacing is popular in the treatment of wrinkles, fine lines, melasma or skin discoloration, acne scars, and dark spots.

Glutathione lightening pills and injections

In recent times, glutathione has become a popular skin bleaching agent. Many people take it in supplement and injection form. This study set out to back verify the claims that glutathione has skin bleaching properties. The study was able to confirm that oral administration of glutathione had skin bleaching effects on the subjects.

However, there are people who prefer glutathione injections to get faster results than the oral administration of the drug. This can be dangerous whether or not one is trying to achieve skin bleaching during pregnancy.

Bleaching creams

You can buy bleaching creams or toning creams in shops all over Nigeria. The most popular ingredient in these lotions is hydroquinone. Some of these creams contain mercury and steroids, which are very dangerous. Skin care products containing mercury, steroids and hydroquinone are banned in Nigeria and a few other African countries, but the numbers of skin lightening agents in the market is still high.

Bleaching during pregnancy—possible side effects

• Bleaching thins the skin and reduces its elasticity, which means that if you bleach during pregnancy, the skin around your growing belly could get wears and tears

• Mercury, one of the active ingredients in most creams, is carcinogenic; This means that it can cause cancer

• Bleaching removes the melanin on the skin, thereby removing the skin’s natural defense against skin cancer

• Ochronosis is a possible effect of skin bleaching; this condition is commonly called Fanta and coke skin in Nigeria because of the severe discoloration it causes

• Oral and injection glutathione aren’t safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding

• According to the NHS, bleaching creams can cause liver, nerve or kidney damage in human beings

• Ingredients in bleaching creams during pregnancy can cause birth defects in babies, and that’s why bleaching pills and injections aren’t such a good idea.

Should you bleach your skin during pregnancy?

What you do with your skin is your choice, of course. But you may have to discontinue skin bleaching during pregnancy. Pregnancy brings a whole lot of skin issues, and it may be tempting to get rid of the mask of pregnancy or any other skin conditions by lightening your skin. However, you should consider the side effects of bleaching during pregnancy before you make that choice.

Resources: NHS

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Immune Health Science 

BBC News Pidgin

Also Read: Excessive sleep during pregnancy- Is it normal?

Written by

Julie Adeboye