We learn in basic science that the skin has three layers — the epidermis, which is the outermost layer that provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone; the dermis, beneath the epidermis and containing tough connective tissues, hair follicles and sweat glands, and the hypodermis, a deeper tissue beneath the skin made of fat and a connective tissue.
Within the epidermis are located melanocytes that create the skin colour and produce the pigment known as melanin.
Melanin serves as the sunscreen of the skin and protects it from the harmful ultra-violet rays from the sun that can damage cells. In fact, the more melanin one produces, the darker one’s skin is. This means that the darker a person is, the better he or she is protected from the sun’s rays.
Among other very important functions, the skin protects living organisms from micro-organisms such as bacteria that cause diseases. Healthy skin produces Vitamin D, whose many functions in the body include the absorption of calcium, 99 per cent of which is needed to keep teeth and bones strong to support the skeletal structure.
A healthy skin helps the body keep its temperature at a constant level. So why would people want to spend time and resources to bleach their skin to render it incapable of protecting itself?
The penchant for some people to use all manner of chemicals, creams, pills and injectables in the name of caring for the skin and making it beautiful cannot go without comment.
It is ironical to see a charming black beauty turn into a blonde-haired female with skin several shades lighter than it was a few years back. Interestingly, society is not witnessing only women but also men who have taken to this practice, as we are bombarded with lightening celebrities and a variety of creams on the shelves. It has become fashionable to some people that the more light-skinned you are, the better human being you have become.
Sadly, some pregnant women swallow pills with the aim of turning the foetuses in the wombs into light-skinned babies at birth. What is wrong with some human beings that they can subject unborn foetuses to such cruelty? One can only imagine what the growing foetuses experience, considering the reactive nature of the chemicals in these pills.
We should drum home to our dark-skinned men and women especially that their skin is better disposed to deal with the effects of the sun’s rays than when it is light.
Perhaps the ultimate reason for this is ignorance and lack of self-confidence and the Daily Graphic suggests intensive education to wage war on this menace to save our people from the effects of bleaching, such as skin cancer, leukemia, renal failure, exacerbated asthma, skin allergy and irritation.
Babies whose mothers take the bleaching pills can develop defects such as absence of limbs and dysfunctional organs.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has sounded the alarm bells and said it has not registered those pills being sold on the open market.
In February this year, Dr Clarence Addo-Yobo of the Healthlinks Medical Clinic also gave the alert when he spoke with the Mirror.
We should act on this with dispatch. Other countries have banned these substances and as a first step we should do same, especially as the FDA says it has not registered them.
The FDA and the security agencies should act tough on those who would be found to be selling Glutathione, popularly called bleaching pills, creams and injectables.