Dr Mike Adenuga, Medical Director of Mataden Specialist Hospital, Ibadan and a University of Ibadan qualified surgeon is also a trained Immunologist. The fellow of the Association of Surgeons in Nigeria for 38 years shares the psychological and physical effects of bleaching on the health.
What is behind the concept of women bleaching their skin?
The idea of bleaching fundamentally is wrong. Psychologically, it shows the person who bleached as incomplete. What do you bleach? You bleach dirt away from the surface, so if you are bleaching your skin, you are assuming that what you are removing from it is not good. There is nothing bad if you have a black skin. God has created a variety of skins, organs, colours, and it has pleased him to give us black so why do you want to bleach it. Such a person is an absurd character.
Are there effects on people who bleach?
The effect on them is both physical and psychological. It is psychological in the sense that they are conscious that they have to lose something. That something is bad on them and once they remove it, they are conscious of the fact that the entire world is looking at them that they have removed something from their body. Physically, you have removed the protective gear of your skin. The moment you remove the protective gear of your skin it affects the underlay. You have removed the epidermis.
What is called the dermis is now affected. You expose the underlying tissues of the skin to the sun and such people are liable to grow skin cancer and there are such which turns your skin to a leopard skin, like you have vitiligo.
You start glowing and then you lose water. When you lose water, you change the pattern of salt in your body. It can lead you to having hypertension and quite a number of other diseases which normally you are protected from. The black skin protects you against so many rays of the sun and against other external injuries. So the effect on the health of the individual is very adverse indeed.
You can make your skin look neat and clean without bleaching it. So if the person who assumes his/her skin is dirty has an issue, then it is unfortunate for him/her.
How susceptible are women who bleach to tumors?
A person who bleaches is more prone to tumor and diseases of the skin than someone who has not bleached. The direct ray of sunlight on the skin will strike the underlay and that will cause a reaction. What we call a Metaplasia and that is the beginning of the growth of cancer.
Can you proffer solutions?
A lot of these women who bleach have discoloration of their skin. They change colour from time to time depending on what they are exposed to. A good solution to it is to educate the men and women who bleach. They have to be given good education to understand that it is dangerous. God deliberately gave them that protective skin so that they can live in where they were created. That is why there is no black man in America. The black man who lives in America was imported there and not created there. If we start educating our people, they will understand why they should not bleach. That bleaching does not add to any beauty. Training the mind and teaching the people will be a solution to this bad practice.
In instances where women that bleach have to undergo surgeries especially during delivery, what is it like?
When you peel off your skin, you impede healing in the area of the skin. So if you have a cut, your cut is not likely to heal as fast as it would have done if it was normal. And if you have a caesarian section which is a deeper cut, you are likely to have a breakdown of that wound. It has happened to so many women who bleached and had to undergo surgical deliveries of their babies.