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New Delhi [India]: “As the ‘red-faced’ young girl entered my consulting chamber, my diagnosis was already done before she sat on the revolving stool meant for examining patients. As expected the redness on her face was accompanied by a growth of hair too. As anticipated, she denied applying anything on her face for the last few years. After a few minutes of grilling, I managed to get a confession of applications of labelled as well as unlabelled ‘magic fairness formulas’ ‘prescribed’ by caring aunts, friends, beauticians, chemists, newspaper full-page ads, etc. I was the fourth qualified dermatologist in the town who was trying to ‘convince’ her that all those ‘expert fairness bits of advice’ were unfair for her ‘not so fair dream’ of turning ‘fair and lovely. After half an hour, as she left my chamber with my prescription, I reassured myself to continue the fight with this irrational self-abuse by people, with topical steroids for fairness, pimples, blemishes, fungal infections, etc, etc.”
Believe me, this is a routine scenario seen in most dermatology clinics, all over India. An urge or obsession to get a lighter tone of the skin is commonly seen due to social ‘stigma’ which wrongly equates beauty or healthy skin with fairness. Unethical promotion of fairness creams (some even containing medicines like steroids) through advertisements by reputed film personalities add to this misconception of fair skin being equivalent to beautiful or healthy skin. The rising incidence of resistant and difficult-to-treat fungal infection of the skin (ringworm) is another fallout of irrational self-use of topical combination creams containing steroids.
It has been observed that even in the twenty-first century, the general population is not very aware of many skin conditions. There are a lot of myths surrounding conditions like vitiligo, leprosy, psoriasis, eczemas, acne, hair loss, etc. These myths may lead to psychological stress and even adverse effects if inappropriate treatment is done due to a lack of knowledge.
Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists & Leprologists (IADVL) observed 6th April as World Skin Health Day to create general awareness about skincare and prevention of abuse of skin with creams. It also aims to create awareness about common skin conditions like vitiligo, leprosy, psoriasis to reduce the social stigma associated with these mostly benign, common conditions.
Some highlights about general skin health follow, which should be remembered by all of us.
Dr Jagdish Sakhiya
Chairperson, IADVL Media Cell
Dr Rashmi Sharma
Convener, IADVL Media Cell
Dr Jayadev Betkerur
Dr Feroz K
Hon Secretary General, IADVL
TEAM IADVL MEDIA CELL
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