Acne remedy linked to possible lead poisoning

Published:September 18th, 2012


From a recent happening, a certain treatment for acne has actually been associated with lead poisoning. The turn of events is not pleasant because the adverse effects of lead in the human body are quite grave. It is not a common occurrence for people to be poisoned by lead but when the dangerous metal is contained in one of the most sought after remedies, ‘acne treatment’, many people are bound to be affected. As of September 2012, eight residents in Durban were being treated in hospital after taking an over the counter skincare medication. The reason for hospitalization being, suspected high levels of lead in the blood.

A hematologist in the city tipped the City health authorities after he encountered and treated a patient suffering from symptoms of lead poisoning. The authorities immediately launched a probe of the product which these patients were using to get a clear skin. Investigations revealed that the supplement known as ‘Skintocare’ was used by these patients. It is a product of an Indian pharmaceutical company known as Bafco Pharmaceuticals and was used mostly by the teenage girls in the form of a capsule. The product is actually an ayurvedic preparation imported from India. It was easily accessible from homeopaths and other health shops selling natural products.

What exactly is the danger of lead poisoning?

This is probably the one million dollar question that is going through the mind of every user of the skincare product. According to Tim Houston, environmental manager with e EThekwini Municipality’s health unit, Skintocare has toxic effects on multiple organs in the body including the heart, nervous system and the bones. Prolonged history of ingestion predisposes to seizures, comas and the possibility of even death.

The health unit has since requested individuals who have been using the product to seek medical consultation as soon as possible. The pharmaceutical company recalled the product and outlets have removed it from their shelves but still a good number of it is yet to be accounted for in terms of where it was distributed. The product was also analyzed by the health unit which concluded that it contains significantly high levels of lead.

People need to know how lead poisoning will present in their bodies so as to seek immediate medical attention. According to Monica Vaithilingum, a pediatric clinical hematologist, lead poisoning symptoms are non-specific. The early symptoms expected are mainly gastrointestinal manifestations such as intermittent abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite and a metallic taste in the mouth. Other symptoms include headaches, depression and muscle pain. The problem with such general symptoms is that many people could be walking around unaware that they have toxic levels of lead in their blood.

A man whose wife and daughter were being treated at the Parklands Hospital for symptoms of lead poisoning was at a loss wondering how such a potentially dangerous product could make its way to the consumer, passing the scrutiny of relevant authorities. In all regard though, the product is presented in a manner that does not raise any suspicion whatsoever. In advertisement, it is listed as a research-based formulation containing anti-microbial, blood purifying, anti-itching and astringent components which function to get rid of the cause of dark spots, blemishes and acne by eliminating toxins stored in the body.

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