An increasing number of women in the UAE are turning to drugs used to treat vitiligo patients, to whiten their complexion and get fairer skin.
Health experts have warned that the misuse of such drugs can cause of serious diseases like cancer.
These girls are so desperate to become ‘white’ that they go to the extent of taking “the eldoquin injections used to treat vitiligo”, according to one doctor who receives several requests to provide the treatment.
Vitiligo is a chronic disorder that causes depigmentation of patches of skin. It occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, die or are unable to function.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Dr Ghada Abu Elhosn, a dermatologist at Al Buhaira Medical Center in Sharjah said that these injections are being sold illegally in the private sector in the country.
“Doctors purchase these injections from other countries such as the US. They are very expensive. One dose of it can cost around Dh5,000. And in order for a normal girl to get the desired result, she has to take a number of injections. However, most girls who want to change their skin colour do not care about the cost. They are ready to pay any amount to get the desired results.”
Dr Ghada added that eldoquin injections kills the melanin cells in the skin, thus, it transforms the skin color to white.
“These injection are mainly used to treat vitiligo patients who get the disease and whose skin transforms by 75 per cent to white color. However, if the white in skin was less than 75 per cent, then we don’t give the patients these injections, and instead of it, we try to treat the affected areas. In most of the cases, they patients get treated.”
She pointed out that she receives many girls who come seeking to get this injection. “However, we do not give it to them because it can cause serious diseases such as cancer, liver problems, lack of immunity and many more. It is not worth it.”
According to another dermatologist from Al Tawam Hospital, these injections are not available in the private sector.
“Government hospitals mainly have such injections. Even here, we do not give it easily to anybody who wants it. I know that the girls who want such injections must sign on an overtaking and they take the responsibilities for any future illness or health problem which may be caused by taking it. We never give it to a normal and healthy person. We only give it to vitiligo patients.”
Emirates 24|7 spoke to a number of women who were desperately seeking the injection.
Aisha, a 35-year-old national mother of two said that she has been trying to get this injection for many years.
“I am not fair. My husband is fairer than me. I tried many whitening creams and tonics, but the results are not satisfying. Once I stop using them, I go back to my natural color. This is annoying as everybody see my husband more handsome and with better skin color.”
She added that she tried to get this injection from many private hospitals, but failed to get it.
“They refuse to give it to me. The doctors say it is not good to be given to a normal person. For me, it doesn’t make a difference as the risks are not 100 per cent. They say that these problems may happen. I have two kids, and I am not planning to have more children.”
She added that she is willing to pay high costs to get the injection, even if it costs Dh5000 per injection.
“My husband also encouraged me to get the injection. He says he wants to see me more beautiful.”