Over the years, bleaching creams also known as skin lighteners, whiteners, brighteners or fading creams were used for the purpose of treating skin problems such as freckles, age spots, acne scars or discolouration related to hormones.
However, in recent times, many people now use such creams to lighten a naturally dark skin not minding the risks associated with it.
An Ibadan-based immunologist, Ganiyu Arinola, however, called on the Nigerian government to ban the importation of bleaching creams.
The professor, who described bleaching as the lightening of the skin or the loss of pigment, also explained the dangers.
Nigerians, however, expressed diverse reactions to the call for the ban of the creams.
Samuel Abiodun, a pharmacist, in a chat with PREMIUM TIMES, applauded the call for the ban and also suggested that the production of such creams in the country be checked.
"I support the idea of banning the importation of these products. They are dangerous to the skin and the body as a whole, and the earlier we realise and accept this, the better for us all.
"I mean, the dangers of these skin bleaching products range from exposure of the skin to mercury to skin cancer. Why expose yourself to all these risks when you can consciously avoid them?"
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES, Omoteniola Taiwo-Ojo, a medical practitioner, said there are different types of skins and the use of bleaching creams is just like using harsh chemicals on the body.
"Well for me, it should not be used because it contains harsh chemicals. We have different types of skins; the oily skin and the dry skin, and for every skin, there's a cream that suits it. The only product required for the skin, especially the dry skin, is a moisturiser.
"Whenever bleaching cream is used on the skin, one develops a huge bacteria colony on the body which then goes into the skin and causes damage. Besides, skin cancer, there's also the risk of delayed healing of injuries on the body," she said.
When asked about the ban on the skin lightening products, she declared, "I don't support bleaching creams, it affects the skin, causes some chemical poisoning, and to the extreme can cause skin cancer."
Chike Onuoha, a businessman who deals in the sale of cosmetic products, is however against the call for the ban.
He said it was like taking food out of his mouth.
In a chat with PREMIUM TIMES, he explained: "We all know it's dangerous to the skin, especially the excessive use of it. I sell these creams and the patronage is way higher than normal moisturising creams.
"I don't want the government to ban the importation of bleaching creams because the ban will affect my business, it's like taking away food from my mouth. This business is my only source of income and I wouldn't want it taken away from me."
He mentioned Caro White, Bio Claire, Perfect White, Clean Claire, So White, Fair & White, Bio Extract among others as some of the most patronised of such products in the market.
He explained that these creams go from as low as N250 to as high as N10,000 and even more.
Another cosmetics dealer, Okoro Chibueze, told PREMIUM TIMES that despite that the creams are dangerous to the skin and should be banned, he wouldn't support the idea because it won't only run down his business but also make him go hungry.
He advised users of these products to avoid using them excessively.
Early this year, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, cautioned the public against the use of skin lightening creams containing mercury and "hydroquinone above two per cent" stating that they are dangerous to health.
NAFDAC is yet to react to calls for the ban of the skin leaching creams. The agency's spokesperson, Abubakar Jimoh, did not reply to calls and sms seeking his comment.