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International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences (IJPHCS)
Open Access e-journal ISSN : 2289-7577


Mohd Shahrol Abd Wahil, Muhammad Faiz Mohd Ishak, Faiz Daud


Background: Skin whitening products are widely used and increasing in demand. However, some of the users are unaware about the health effect of some of the products. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to determine user awareness of health effects from skin whitening applications.

Materials and Methods: This study was a systematic review conducted from February 2018 to May 2018. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) were used to facilitate the article search process. Articles published between January 2013 and December 2017 were searched using six search engines: Google Scholar, Ovid, EBSCOhost, Scopus, PubMed and Wiley. A total of 19 academic articles fulfilled the selection criteria.

Result: A significant fraction of the studies were conducted in African countries (42.0%). The prevalence of skin whitening practices among respondents ranged from 2.6 to 71.9%. The definition of user awareness regarding the adverse effects of skin whitening varied between studies, but the awareness frequency ranged from 2.0% to 79.1%. The prevalence of side effects ranged from 17.0% to 34.9%. Four themes were synthesised after extensive review: health beliefs, health authority, consumer behaviour and the need for social recognition.

Conclusion: The demand for skin whitening has increased over time, so the public health authority should closely monitor the whitening industry to safeguard the health of the Malaysian population.

Keywords: Skin whitening, skin lightening, skin bleaching, awareness, perception, safety, side effect, health effect.

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