Ivory Coast bans skin whitening creams over health fears

A large number of African women use the creams which experts think can have dangerous health side-effects

Rose Troup Buchanan
Thursday 07 May 2015 21:52
Comments
A common advertisement in central Abidjan
A common advertisement in central Abidjan

Ivory Coast has banned skin whitening creams, widely used in West Africa, after issuing a health warning over the products.

Whitening creams, prominently advertised across many cities in Ivory Coast as well as other African nations such as Nigeria, are a popular beauty treatment among many women and some men.

The health ministry said in a statement: "cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams... that de-pigment the skin... are now forbidden".

Medical experts have warned that many of the creams, sold over the counter and un-prescribed, could be damaging causing cancer, diabetes, severe skin conditions and other diseases.

"The number of people with side-effects caused by these medicines is really high," Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast's pharmaceutical authority, told AFP.

His warning was borne out by British dermatologist Justine Kluk who told the BBC that the products often contain dangerously unregulated ingredients, such as large amounts of steroids or mercury.

The ban follows that of nations such as Senegal or South Africa, but neither have seen a drop in the numbers using the creams.

A substantial proportion of African women use whitening creams, with a recent 2008 UN Environment Programme study finding that more than 75 per cent of Nigerian women continuing to purchase them.

Whitening creams remain popular outside of Africa, with large take-up in India and certain Middle Eastern nations.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in