An epidemiological survey was conducted into the presence of toxic chemicals in soaps and cosmetics used by 200 adolescent female students between 17 and 26 years of age from a Nigerian university, The University of Benin, Benin City. Most of these cosmetics, which included creams, lotions and soaps, were imported from Europe. 20% of these young girls had used cosmetics to lighten their skin for between two months to two years and claimed that they had some irritations. Another 40% used a mixture of cosmetics and soaps in combination and their skins were burnt during the period. Over 66% used medicated soaps which they claimed were very good on their skin, but 17% of these cosmetics contain hydroquinone while 14% and 35% of the soaps contain potassium mercuric iodide. The presence of these chemicals, (hydroquinone and mercuric iodide), which had already been banned worldwide in cosmetics and soaps must be viewed with serious concern, especially when most of the users claimed that they were ignorant of the health implications involved. Government agencies controlling the regulations and importation of these pharmaceutical products should ensure that Nigeria does not become a dumping ground for such undesirable products, which can become carcinogenic on the skin after long-term use. Follow-up action on educating these young girls on the health implications involved in the use of these pharmaceutical products is highly recommended.

Author Biography

Ifeyinwa Flossy Obuekwe, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Benin City. Nigeria

Uche Mabel Ochei, M. Pharm, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Benin City. Nigeria