A preliminary study of skin bleaching and factors associated with skin bleaching among women living in Zimbabwe
Background: Skin bleaching was reported to be commonly practiced among women and Africa was reported to be one of the most affected yet the subject is not given much attention in public health research in Zimbabwe despite the adverse effects of skin bleaching on health.
Method: This study was an exploratory cross-sectional survey to explore skin bleaching, skin bleaching patterns and factors associated with skin bleaching among women living in Zimbabwe. An online self-administered questionnaire was sent out to women on social network i.e. WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Findings: A total number of 260 respondents, mean age 31.69 (SD, 8.12) years participated in the survey. The prevalence of skin bleaching among the participants was 31.15%. The major reason reported for skin bleaching was to have smooth and healthy skin alongside other factors such as beauty, gaining social favours for example getting married and good jobs. Occupation, complexion and marital status were associated with skin bleaching. The odds of skin bleaching for participants who were employed was 1.45(95% confidence interval [CI],0.32-1.91);p-value 0.02, dark skinned participants 2.56(95% CI, 0.76-2.87);p-value 0.01 and unmarried participants 2.87(95% CI,0.29-3.58);p-value 0.03. Conclusion: Evidence from the research suggests skin bleaching might be common among women living in Zimbabwe and possibly poses serious health threats to the women. Skin bleaching seems to be deep rooted in colourism. The colourism seems to be taken advantage of by the cosmetic industry which produce the potentially hazardous products which promise the revered light skin to women but which comes with a price. However, the study provides a base for future studies to ex- plore more on skin bleaching practices among women living in Zimbabwe.
Keywords: Skin bleaching; skin bleaching products; women; Zimbabwe.
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