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Skin lightening creams: a big new problem

Elizabeth Mohoane had some spots on her face. She wanted to get rid of these spots. Her friend told her to buy some Dolly Lou cream. She bought the cream and used it.

Four days later, her face got swollen and ‘burnt’. She got blisters allover her face and neck. She felt very itchy. Her face began to water. And then she got big white patches on her face, neck and hands. Big white patches that won’t go away.

She went to the hospital. The doctors are doing their best to help her. But nothing is happening. She is not getting better.

“I feel very angry”, Elizabeth told Learn and Teach. “Next month I wanted to visit my mother on the farm. But I can’t go looking like this. I feel so ashamed.”

A skin doctor at the Hillbrow hospital has seen 20 people like Elizabeth Mohoane in the past four months. She is treating all these people. Only two people are getting better.

All the people used one of these creams – “Dolly Lou”, “Charm All” and “Susa Amabala”. These creams damage some people’s skins after a few days. Some people suffer months later.

“All skin lightening creams damage your skin”, says the skin doctor. “But these three creams are doing terrible damage. They have put new chemicals in these creams. We aren’t sure what the chemicals are. We are trying to find out.”

The skin doctor is very worried about these three creams. “I have seen 20 people already. But my clinic is a very small clinic. I wonder how many other people have damaged their skins from these creams”.

The skin doctor is certain that Dolly Lou, Charm All and Susa Amabala damage people’s skins. She has done tests. She rubbed the creams onto people’s arms. And she saw what happened.

The doctor wants the health department to do something. “People make these cheap creams with all types of things. The Health Department must make laws to protect people.”

The skin doctor wants to tell Learn and Teach readers one more thing: “All skin lightening creams are dangerous. Black people must not use skin lightening creams. They have black skins for a good reason. Their black skins protect them from the sun. Very few black people get skin cancer.

But thousands of white people in South Africa get skin cancer.”


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