Nav: Home

Researchers identify characteristics of over the counter skin lightening users

July 18, 2018

(Boston)--The desire for unblemished, clear skin permeates all cultures and societies, making the practice of skin lightening to minimize spots and even a skin tone quite common worldwide. Internationally, the use of creams to lighten skin is widespread and widely studied. In the U.S. however, information about use of these creams is sparse.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) studied the types of people who use these creams, why they use them and how well the creams work. Such information they believe could help doctors advise their patients about which creams are the safest and most effective.

In order to understand characteristics associated with the use of lightening products, researchers surveyed 406 adults with cutaneous hyperpigmentation who had been seen in a U.S.-based dermatology clinic from February 2015 through July 2016. Information was collected about patients' demographics, use of over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription lightening products, their components and perceived benefit. Patients also saw a board-certified dermatologist, for assessment of diagnosis, skin type and disease severity.

Of the more than 400 participates in the study, over 70 percent were born outside the U.S. The most common conditions leading to lightening cream use were melasma (brown to gray-brown patches) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). Less than half reported subjective improvement in their skin tone and results were even worse for those using OTC creams: only 26.5 percent were satisfied with their results. Among those that did report improvement, the most effective agent was prescription-strength triple-combination cream.

The majority (57.5 percent) of these creams were purchased from U.S. pharmacies, but a significant minority were obtained abroad, from community stores or from friends. According to the researchers these unauthorized creams may contain harmful compounds such as mercury, and they emphasize that not all OTC creams are safe to use without supervision.

"This primarily descriptive study highlights important aspects in those who use lightening products," explained corresponding author Neelam Vashi, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center at Boston Medical Center. "More than half of our responders were not satisfied with their OTC creams, reporting that it did not improve their hyperpigmentation."

Approximately half of the sample population, all of which had cosmetically bothersome hyperpigmentation, had tried OTC lightening agents, with the vast majority consulting a clinician during the course of their treatment. "This indicates a very large group of patients that dermatologists have the ability to educate and counsel, advising on proper application and side effects from inappropriate use of lightening agents."
-end-
These findings appear online in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.

Boston University School of Medicine

Related Medicine Articles:

Moving beyond 'defensive medicine'
Study shows removing liability concerns slightly increases C-section procedures during childbirth.
Artificial intelligence and family medicine: Better together
Researcher at the University of Houston are encouraging family medicine physicians to actively engage in the development and evolution of artificial intelligence to open new horizons that make AI more effective, equitable and pervasive.
NUS Medicine researchers can reprogramme cells to original state for regenerative medicine
Scientists from NUS Medicine have found a way to induce totipotency in embryonic cells that have already matured into pluripotency.
Protein injections in medicine
One day, medical compounds could be introduced into cells with the help of bacterial toxins.
Study reveals complementary medicine use remains hidden to conventional medicine providers
Research reveals that 1 in 3 complementary medicine (CM) users do not disclose their CM use to their medical providers, posing significant direct and indirect risks of adverse effects and harm due to unsafe concurrent use of CM and conventional medicine use.
Study of traditional medicine finds high use in Sub-Saharan Africa despite modern medicine
Researchers who have undertaken the first systematic review of into the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM) in Sub-Saharan Africa found its use is significant and not just because of a lack of resources or access to 'conventional medicine'.
New techniques allow medicine to see the whole again
Medical diagnoses mostly focuses on resolving isolated issues. But, fixing one problem may create others and even invoke an overall health collapse.
Progress toward personalized medicine
A few little cells that are different from the rest can have a big effect.
CU School of Medicine's Kenneth Tyler article in New England Journal of Medicine
Kenneth Tyler, M.D., the Louise Baum Endowed Chair in Neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is author of a review article about acute viral encephalitis in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
An advance for precision medicine
Scientists have developed a method to quickly and efficiently recognize the subtypes of cells within the body for the first time.
More Medicine News and Medicine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.