Ivory Coast has banned skin whitening creams, health officials said on Friday, adding “cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams… that de-pigment the skin… are now forbidden”.
Whitening creams, used for beauty treatments, are popular among women and some men in Africa
Medical experts have warned that many of the creams, sold over the counter and un-prescribed, could be damaging causing cancer, diabetes, severe skin conditions and other diseases.
“The number of people with side-effects caused by these medicines is really high,” Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, told AFP.
Senegal and South Africa have banned the products but neither have seen a drop in the numbers using the creams.
A substantial proportion of African women use whitening creams, with a recent 2008 UN Environment Programme study finding that more than 75 per cent of Nigerian women continuing to purchase them.
Whitening creams remain popular outside of Africa, the highest being in India and some Middle East countries.