FDA to Ban Skin Lightening Products
FDA is going to ban several counter skin lightening products that contain hydroquinone because studies on rodents has shown that hydroquinone, a kind of bleaching agent that may cause cancer. While the actual risk of hydroquinone is still unknown, FDA said the products should be restricted to prescription use under medical supervision. Before hydroquinone, another skin bleaching drug, ammoniated mercury, has been declared unsafe in 1990.
The fact that hydroquinone links to a disfiguring condition called ochronosis has been widely documented since 1975 in black women and men in South Africa, Britain and the U.S. The ochronosis is a condition marked by the darkening and thickening of the skin and appearance of tiny dome-shaped and grayish-brown spots.
Skin lighteners are usually used to treat skin problems such as freckles, blemishes, sun spots or age spots. While in some countries skin lighteners are not very popular, in other countries skin lighteners have been over used to gain a whiter complexion. Hydroquinone has been banned in some European countries, Australia and Japan.
FDA has published the proposed rule on August 29th, 2006 in the Federal Register and will accept public comments through December 26th, 2006. It has not confirmed when the rule will become permanent.