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African Safety Promotion: A Journal of Injury and Violence Prevention

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Skin bleaching: A neglected form of injury and threat to global skin

JC Street, K Gaska, KM Lewis, ML Wilson

Abstract


Skin bleaching is the use of creams, gels, or soaps to lighten the skin and is known to cause a number of injuries, many of which are potentially life-threatening. Despite the growing body of research identifying the harmful effects of skin bleaching, this topic has received little attention in the field of public health. This study provides a literature review of the current research documenting health risks associated with skin bleaching. Articles pertaining to skin bleaching practices and their health consequences were extracted from databases that publish research in the biomedical, public health, and social science literatures. Twenty-two articles that met search criteria were analysed and thematically coded using a priori research questions examining: (1) harms caused by skin bleaching, (2) alignment with accepted definitions of injury, and (3) suggestions for prevention and intervention. Results indicate skin bleaching poses a serious public health risk and threat to skin safety. Researchers have called for increased governmental and individual/community intervention to address this growing problem. Limitations of the study include the small number of scholarly publications on the topic, limited epidemiological study of the topic, and various selection biases in individual articles that may skew results.

Keywords: skin safety, skin bleaching, skin lightening, injury prevention, literature review, public health




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