British doctors warned about the dangers of using illegal skin
whitening creams after a woman using this kind of product
experienced a number of health problems, media reported
The 28-year-old patient went to Hammersmith Hospital of London
because she gained 12.7 kg in three years and tried unsuccessfully
to conceive for the previous 18 months. She also had recurrent
thrush, bruised easily and had stripes on her arms, back, legs and
When doctors examined her they discovered a fat pad between her
shoulders and a round face, as well as mild hair growth on her back
Doctors originally diagnosed it was a disorder called Cushing's
syndrome. But blood tests turned up no sign of excess levels of two
hormones that are the usual telltales of this syndrome.
Then the patient admitted she had been using a black market
skin-lightening cream for seven years, amounting to about 60 grams
a week. The cream contained the potent steroid clobetasol, a
powerful corticosteroid usually used against psoriasis and
Doctors at the hospital reported the case and urged
physicians to be aware of the risk of illegal skin whiteners.
"Patients are often reluctant to admit that they have used
skin-lightening creams - especially if these are supplied
illegally," they said, "Creams can contain toxic substances, such
as steroids and hydroxyquinone -- and patients are typically
unaware of the risks."
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2008)