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Whitening soaps are traditionally used to make the skin look fair. It can fade freckles, sun damage, acne spots and even age spots. Whitening soaps contain different ingredients to achieve lighter skin. While some ingredients often used (papaya, glycerin) are harmless, others such as hydroquinone or mercury are potentially dangerous. Always consult your dermatologist about using a whitening soap, because while the results may be favorable, these soaps may also produce undesirable side effects.


Ochronosis is a rare but possible side effect of using hydroquinone on the skin. It generally occurs from the prolonged usage of hydroquinone in skin bleaching products. This condition causes dark patches of skin discoloration on the areas that bleaching products were used. Skin discoloration may vary in shades of gray and blue. You should seek the advice of a dermatologist to determine the best way to care for your skin and avoid ochronosis.

Besides ochronosis, hydroquinone may also cause cancer and problems with the adrenal glands.

Mercury Side Effects

The mercury used in some bleaching soaps may do more damage to your body than the good it is supposed to do to your skin. Mercury is a dangerous heavy metal. This ingredient may irritate the sensitive skin. Prolonged use of whitening soaps containing mercury may also lead to long-term skin problems, kidney problems and even nerve problems. Consult a doctor about safe skincare products that do not contain potentially harmful ingredients.


Some skin whitening soaps are more alkaline. This means that the pH of the product is greater than 7. Whitening soaps that are more alkaline than acidic have a tendency to leave skin susceptible to fungal and bacterial infections. These infections should be treated by a doctor immediately, to avoid permanent skin damage and possibly contaminating others with the infection. Also, if the product has contributed to an infection, use of the whitening product should be stopped immediately.