The risks of external oculotoxicity in the usage of hydroquinone containing, cosmetic products (A case study of Warri, Del Ta State, Nigeria)

  • CC Asonye Department of Optometry, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
  • HO Ovberedjo Department of Optometry, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Keywords: hydroquinone, abuse, adverse effects, eye


Hydroquinone, (benzene-1, 4-diol) belongs to the quinol group of compounds which are derivatives of phenols known to possess hypopigmentary effects on the skin. Among the dark skinned, it is described as a skin lightening substance when added to creams, soaps, lotions, gels and ointments. To look fair skinned has been the fancy and attraction of some female and male blacks whose major motive is for social (aesthetic) reasons so as to obtain a sense of distinction from their dark skinned contemporaries. The adverse effects of hydroquinone abuse have been of great concern to the government and people of Nigeria and the outcomes of such abuse range from skin cancers to toxicity of the external adnexia. Clinical eye examinations and questionnaires were used to investigate the oculo-toxic effects of hydroquinone among 200 respondents using hydroquinone containing products (Group A), compared to a control of 200 not using hydroquinone containing products (Group B), all residing in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. Oculovisual disorders namely redness and itching, itching alone, redness alone and blurred vision occurred in 65% of the experimental group (group A) compared to 35% in control (group B). Among the experimental group, red eye and itching (120 respondents) followed by itching alone (90), red eye alone (47) and blurred vision (40) were the common signs and symptoms. In addition, 25% became exposed to hydroquinone-containing products through personal knowledge while (65%) were through encouragement by friends and relations and 3.0% through the prescription of dermatologists. The results indicate that there are indeed adverse oculotoxic effects of hydroquinone abuse in Nigeria.

Keywords: hydroquinone, abuse, adverse effects, eye

West African Journal of Pharmacology and Drug Research Vol. 20(1&2) 2005: 62-67


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eISSN: 0303-691X