The Dangers of Skin Whiteners
The cream, manufactured in Mexico, is labeled in Spanish and sold primarily in Latino communities at flea markets and retail outlets. It's promoted to whiten skin, treat acne, and remove warts and blemishes.
Exposure to mercury can cause kidney and nervous system damage and interfere with brain development in children. Symptoms include irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, memory problems, depression, and numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around the mouth.
This is just the latest wrinkle in recurrent efforts to peddle dangerous skin-lightening products. For instance, the New York Times reported in 2010 on steroid-laced skin products stocked in Asian markets and sold to what a dermatologist described as "an amazingly international cross section of women of color."
Why did women buy the ultimately disfiguring products? Said one West Indies woman: she wanted "to be more accepted in society."
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