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Surge in renal disease linked to skin whitening creams, warn health officials

July 04, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lankan health authorities have raised serious concerns about a notable rise in kidney disease cases attributed to the use of skin whitening creams, surpassing even the incidence of cancer.

At a recent briefing held by the Health Promotion Bureau, Dr. Indira Kahawita, a Consultant Dermatologist, highlighted this worrying trend.

“There is a collaborative effort between the World Health Organisation and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health to eradicate mercury use entirely, aiming for zero mercury utilisation. Despite this, these hazardous substances are being widely applied to the body, resulting in severe health repercussions. Mercury exposure can lead to kidney failure,” Dr. Kahawita explained.

Dr. Kahawita shared her observations from recent clinical practice, stating, “In a single day, I examined approximately 60 patients across 40 clinics. Of these, 10 per cent had conditions directly linked to the use of whitening creams. These are not long-term consequences but immediate concerns, such as the development of stretch marks.”

She also noted an increase in alarming symptoms, including blackening of the palms and discolouration of nails turning brown or orange, which have become more prevalent in recent months.

She added that these short-term side effects are occurring more frequently and pose significant health risks even before cancer develops.

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