Main Article Content
Importance: The cosmetic use of skin bleaching products is a common practice in coloured-skinned women. The use of skin lightening creams is common and widespread in the African. Asian, and North American populations. Use of skin bleaching agents has been reported in Saudi Arabia. The long-term use of these products for several months to years may cause cutaneous or systemic side-effects.
Aims: This study aimed was to assess the prevalence of self-use of skin bleaching agents among Saudi women as well as the level of awareness, attitudes and practice towards the use of these agents.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted by selection of systematic random sampling of female attending family medicine clinic at Prince Mansour Military Hospital from October to December, 2017. The data collected by a structured questionnaire included information about background variables, attitudes, awareness and practice regarding the use of skin bleaching agents. The data were analyzed using statistical software to yield descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results: A total of 358 women aged between 18-55 years old were included in this study. About 25% of the women were current users of skin bleaching agents, while 39.6% were only previous users. Thus, more than half of these women were either current or previous users, while 12% of them used creams previously and still use it currently. About a third of women used bleaching creams as a treatment for hypo or hyperpigmented skin and 29.4% used them for cosmetic purposes. Regarding the source of these agents, 38% of women obtaining them by medical prescription and 27.8% were from a pharmacy without prescription, while the remaining women obtaining them from the market. The reason of using skin bleaching creams was varying among females, 51.6% of females used creams for increase beauty, 51% for making a new look, 6% for rising self-confidence, and 4.3% to increase the stability of marriage. About 56% of women reported that cortisone is the most dangerous component of the skin bleaching agents. About 33% of women agreed to use a quick whitening agent from an unknown source. Significant associations were detected between the use of skin bleaching agents and each of education, income, and occupation, while the associations with marital status and age were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: The lifetime use of skin bleaching agents was relatively high divided evenly into cosmetic and curative purposes. The level of awareness about these agents is low since a considerable proportion of them agreed to use agents from unknown sources. In addition to the high use of skin bleaching agents obtained without medical or pharmacist consultation.