Health Canada is urging Canadians to refrain from using skin-lightening products that aren’t authorized for sale in Canada due to possible health risks.
According to a news release, Health Canada has seized several unauthorized products from retailers that contain prescription drugs such as betamethasone dipropionate, clobetasol propionate, or hydroquinone at concentrations greater than 2 per cent. These products may pose health risks, such as blisters, scarring, skin weakening or deterioration, bone loss, decreased ability to fight infection, and, in the case of hydroquinone at concentrations greater than 2 per cent, possibly cancer.
Additionally, unauthorized skin-lightening products may contain elevated levels of mercury, which can cause mercury poisoning and pose serious health risks—especially to children, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding.
While they have already seized several products, Health Canada is concerned similar unauthorized products continue to be sold to Canadians despite their risks.
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In order to ensure products have been assessed by Health Canada and are safe for use, consumers are encouraged to check for an eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the label.
Those who believe they have purchased unauthorized products are encouraged to report them to Health Canada.