Concerns over glutathione skin bleaching in the UK

August 31, 2016

Skin bleaching with the use of glutathione is on the rise, despite the potential ethical issues and adverse side effects associated with the practice, warns a doctor in The BMJ this week.

Ophelia Dadzie, a consultant dermatologist at The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Founder and Director of London Ethnic Skin Limited, says that "there is a lack of authoritative public health information in the UK about the efficacy and safety of this practice."

Skin bleaching is a cosmetic procedure that involves lightening constitutive colour, and one such agent used is glutathione, an antioxidant that can be administered orally or intravenously.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been an increase in the use of intravenous glutathione for skin bleaching in the UK. This practice is usually provided by beauty and aesthetic clinics, and in some cases non-medical practitioners administer the treatment.

Potential include toxicity of the nervous system, kidney and liver, headaches, and rare, but serious skin conditions such as Stevens Johnson syndrome and .

Other potential risks include transmission of infection, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B—of particular concern when non-medical practitioners administer the treatment—and there are theoretical concerns about long term skin cancer risk.

"The cost of this treatment can be very high", adds Dr. Dadzie, "yet there is no explicit approval for the use of glutathione for skin bleaching."

In contrast, both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Dermatology Society in the Philippines—where the practice is common—have issued advisory warnings about the treatment.

No published clinical trials have evaluated the use of for skin bleaching, and no published guidelines exist for appropriate dosing regimes, or guidance for treatment duration.

"Clear public health information and advisory warnings in relation to this practice—from governmental agencies such as the Medicines Health Regulatory Agency—are needed in the UK," she warns.

Explore further: FDA issues warning about skin lighteners

More information: Unethical skin bleaching with glutathione, The BMJ, www.bmj.com/content/354/bmj.i4386

Related Stories

FDA issues warning about skin lighteners

September 2, 2015
(HealthDay)—Injectable skin-lightening products are potentially unsafe and ineffective, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

Nonablative radiofrequency tx ups skin elasticity around eyes

August 4, 2016
(HealthDay)—Nonablative radiofrequency treatment can improve skin elasticity around the eye area, according to a study published online July 29 in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Eczema's effects more than skin deep

July 29, 2016
(HealthDay)—People dealing with the itchy skin condition known as eczema may have other medical conditions to cope with as well, including heart disease, a dermatologist says.

Indoor tanning: Women say no to total ban, yes to stricter policies

August 15, 2016
Most young adult women who regularly visit indoor tanning salons support the introduction of policies to make it safer, but are against a total ban. This is according to a study led by Darren Mays of Georgetown University ...

Antioxidants help treat skin-picking disorder in mice, researcher says

July 13, 2015
Two antioxidant supplements are effective in treating skin-picking disorder in mice, according to a study led by a Stanford University School of Medicine researcher.

FDA warns of rare skin reactions to acetaminophen

August 2, 2013
(HealthDay)—The widely used painkiller acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol, can cause rare but serious skin reactions and a warning about this danger will be added to product labels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ...

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.