Toxic effects of skin-lightening products in Canadian immigrants

Nisha Mistry*, Jonathan Shapero, Roopal Vashi Kundu, Harvey Shapero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The cultural practice of skin bleaching is highly prevalent in Africa. Most reported cases of toxic effects of skinlightening products occur in this region. Objective: To describe cases of misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) cosmetic skin-lightening products occurring in Canadian immigrants. Methods: Two cases of Canadian immigrants with severe complications from OTC skin-bleaching agents were identified in a community-based dermatology practice in Toronto. The case histories were reviewed and analyzed. Results: A 28-year-old African-Canadian woman developed extensive striae from long-term use of a topical cream containing clobetasol that she had purchased in a Caribbean health food store. A 55-year-old African-Canadian woman developed exogenous ochronosis from the use of a topical bleaching agent she had purchased in Ghana. Conclusion: Cosmetic skin lightening with unregulated topical products occurs in Canada. Dermatologists working in Canada need to be aware of this practice to provide appropriate directive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-258
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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