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Histopathological effects of mercury in skin-lightening cream.

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Biological & Medical Research Department, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Rose skin-lightening cream with a mercury content of 77,513 +/- 71,063 ppm was selected and applied on mice for a period of 1 month at different intervals. Mercury levels were measured in a total of 58 liver, kidney, and brain tissue samples by atomic absorption spectrophotometer coupled to vapor generator accessory. The mean mercury concentration in the tissues of treated mice was 67,472 +/- 70,181 microg/g in the range of 0.391-288.759 microg/g. Looking at the mercury concentration in the tissue samples with respect to the application of skin lightening creams at different intervals, the highest mercury concentrations were found in the tissues of mice treated 3 times a day (116.806 +/- 83.182 microg/g, ranges 5.989-288.759 microg/g). On the other hand, the lowest mercury concentrations were found in the tissues of mice treated once a week (16.450 +/- 26.168 microg/g, ranges 0.391-95.642 microg/g). Histopathological changes were clearly seen in the brain, kidney, and liver sections of all treated mice. The severity of pathological changes observed in tissues increased with increasing the number of applications. It is evident that repeated application of Rose skin-lightening creams could induce permanent damage to the kidneys, brain, and liver. This study emphasizes the potential toxicity of mercury skin-lighting creams and the importance of discontinuing their manufacture and use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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