Doctors want ban on skin-lightening products


Doctors in Antigua and Barbuda are preparing to lobby Cabinet officials to draft and enact legislation to limit the importation and use of skin-lightening products, as reports.

News of this development was revealed by Caribarena Antigua in a report that quoted physician Patrick Matthew as saying that skin-lightening among the nation’s women had reached critical levels with life-threatening consequences.

Matthew reportedly said that recent tests conducted in Antigua revealed alarming levels of mercury in some of the products available, and at least one person has so far been diagnosed with cancer after using such products.

The young woman in question has since left for Canada, where further tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and treatment options, according to Caribarena.

Matthew reportedly explained that the woman had been diagnosed with high levels of ototoxicity,  with unacceptable levels of mercury present.

Caribarena further quoted the doctor as saying that residents have seemingly been buying black market products that have been banned in some countries like Jamaica, where skin-lightening practices had to be legislated.

Mercury intake is reportedly known to have significant, harmful side effects, including brain damage and birth defects.

“We are going to be looking to get some kind of legislation passed to protect our women from the dangers they do not know,” Dr Matthew was quoted as saying.

Dermatologist Dr Maria Periera and Dr Jerry Simon are said to be among the local physicians prepared to take the proposal to Cabinet.

Similar concerns about skin-lightening agents have been raised in several parts of Africa, according to a recent report by the BBC.

For the original report go to

3 thoughts on “Doctors want ban on skin-lightening products

  1. That’s a shame that skin lightening in Antigua and Barbuda has become so prevalent. I did not know that these products contained such high levels of mercury, nor did I know that skin lightening was a potentially life threatening activity. I hope that the government ban is effective in curtailing the practice of skin whitening.

  2. It is good to see that Antiguans are trying to pass legislation to ban mercury based skin-whitening cream in their nation. European nations banned these products in the 70s and the U.S banned them in 1990. This product not only increases the risk of cancer but has also been found to have the opposite effect in the long run, and in some cases absorbing the cream resulting in extended absorption of the cream. The cosmetics industry should not be left to profit from harmful products such as this one which perpetuate outdated (and racist) ways of thinking that label some bodies (or skin tones) as beautiful and others not.

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