The Ivory Coast health ministry has announced a ban on skin whitening creams owing to health concerns.

In a statement, the health ministry said,

"Cosmetic lightening and hygiene creams... that de-pigment the skin... are now forbidden".

According to AFP, Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast's pharmaceutical authority also said:

"The number of people with side-effects caused by these medicines is really high"

Speaking on some of the dangers of skin whitening creams, British consultant dermatologist Justine Kluk said the major concern was over unregulated products, which may contain ingredients such as mercury or excessive amounts of steroids.

According to her,

"If one thinks about steroids being present in these products, they're often present in much higher quantities than we would prescribe"

She also added that the creams can cause a variety of health issues, such as "acne, thinning of the skin, glaucoma or cataracts if applied near the eyes, or if applied liberally to the whole body, [they can] cause high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood disturbance due to absorption of large amounts of steroids"

Analysts say the ban may not stop people from buying the products even as whitening creams continue to thrive in Gambia inspite of the ban there.

According to a 2008 UN Environment Programme study, Nigeria has the most widespread figure of use of whitening creams, standing at 75%.

Also, South Africa has the world's toughest laws against skin lighteners, having prohibited the most active ingredient, hydroquinone.