Videos promote indiscriminate use of corticosteroids to lighten skin

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By Luiz Fernando Menezes

April 1, 2024, 10:42 am

Every week a new miraculous recipe appears on the internet: boldo tea to cure Covid-19, yam and apple juice to treat dengue fever and even water to prevent cancer. There are so many combinations that appear out there that, sometimes, it seems that online alchemists choose the ingredients using some type of draw.

‘It doesn’t hurt.’ Aos Fatos reader commented in denial about yam juice to cure dengue

Whenever we deny something like this, a reader argues: “Ah, but yam juice [ou água ou a cura milagrosa do momento] It doesn’t hurt.” Yes, it does.

An ineffective recipe, even made with natural and nutritious products, can deceive and prevent patients from seeking medical help. Therefore, it is recommended to always follow treatments based on scientific evidence.

The situation is even worse when content creators recommend a medicine to cure a disease or condition. How can you forget, for example, ivermectin? To this day, there are people who swear that it cures Covid-19 (and now also dengue!).

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In recent weeks, several videos have appeared on the networks of people recommending ointments to remove skin blemishes and lighten parts of the body. Many of them, such as Cimecort and Cetobeta, use the corticosteroid betamethasone in their composition.

‘Without secrets.’ Unidentified woman says that putting ointment on her groin daily makes the area lighter (Reproduction/Facebook)

“I’m using this miracle ointment”, “how to lighten your armpits at home” and “ointment that lightens your private parts” are examples of captions that appear in these videos. In them, users claim that they are applying the ointment every day and are seeing “sensational” results.

It’s difficult to choose where to start. But let’s go.

Before using a medicine, always check what the leaflet says. Cetobeta’s, for example, is clear: “[A pomada] should only be used under the guidance of your doctor.” Furthermore, it cannot be applied to mucous membranes and the face or used for more than 12 days. This goes for any similar ointment.

The indiscriminate use of topical corticosteroids can cause various skin problems, such as thinning, acne, stretch marks, inflammation and even the opposite of what was promised in the videos: blemishes.

These ointments also reduce the skin’s natural protection and, therefore, it is contraindicated to use them in the armpits, groin and on the skin of the sexual organs.

“It’s a humid and stuffy region, and the use of corticosteroids without absolutely any type of indication can turn into an incredible fungal infection,” he explained to At what point do we check Laura Marise, doctor in biosciences and biotechnology responsible for the channel I’ve never seen a scientist.

Spots and darkening of the skin in specific regions can be caused by a variety of conditions — from repetitive waxing to health problems — and, therefore, should be investigated and treated by a dermatologist.

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On the networks There is no evidence that yam, apple and orange juice increases platelets and cures dengue

On the networks There is no scientific evidence that papaya leaf tea fights dengue in humans

Natural recipes. In addition to ointments, users also recommend natural recipes to lighten the skin. Mixtures such as coffee grounds with coconut oil, cornstarch with milk and raw rice blended in a blender with water are shared as “natural lighteners”. Once again, it’s all a lie.

Woman mixes rice with water. Caption says 'Pepekinha clarinha'

‘Clarinha.’ Mixtures promise to lighten the genital region, but can cause health problems (Reproduction/Kwai)

“There is no homemade recipe or any kind of magic to lighten blemishes on the skin. The skin is our body’s defense organ and can react in different ways when coming into contact with botanical substances, with different pH and associations. These recipes may not only not lighten the dark spot, but also cause allergies, irritation reactions in contact with sunlight and worsen a previously existing spot” — note from SBD (Brazilian Society of Dermatology).

In the genital region, specifically, the problem is even greater: products that promise to lighten these areas — even if natural — can cause allergies and irritation and unbalance the pH of the skin and mucous membrane.

Paracetamol. Last, but no less absurd, are the videos that instruct people to rub paracetamol on their groin, armpit or even grind the tablet, put it in water and take a “sitz bath”.

Never do that. There is nothing in the leaflet that indicates that the medicine can help lighten the genital or anal regions.

Post shows 'before and after' groin after application of paracetamol, without, however, presenting any evidence

‘Did not you know.’ Doctor denounces publications that indicate crushed paracetamol to lighten the skin (Reproduction/Instagram)

This story probably comes from a L’Oreal patent from the 1990s, which sought to use paracetamol as a depigmentation agent. The product, however, also had other substances in its composition and, as far as Aos Fatos verified, its development did not go any further.

In short, then: don’t believe in miracle products, don’t believe anyone on Kwai, TikTok, YouTube or any video platform.

And please, don’t put anything on your genitals without a doctor’s advice. Paracetamol in others is refreshment.


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Videos promote indiscriminate corticosteroids lighten skin

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