A Survey of Female Sudanese College Students’ Knowledge and Attitude towards Skin Lightening
Context: The use of skin lightening products (SLP) containing harmful chemicals is the largest recent women’s health issue in Sudan. Despite their adverse effects, the current frequency of the use of SLP among young Sudanese women (74.4%) is recognized as high.
Objectives: To assess the attitude of Sudanese female college students regarding 1) the use of SLP, and 2) their knowledge of its adverse health effects.
Methods: A survey study was conducted on 364 female college students who attended lectures at the University of Gezira between July and September 2015. We asked the study participants to report socio-demographic data, whether SLP can harm a user’s health, and the motives for using SLP.
Results: Although the majority of females (320/359) (89.1%) reported that SLP could harm a user’s health, 320/364 (87.9%) reported favorable attitudes toward the use of SLP. The most common motives for using SLP were: to lighten dark spots and remove acne (57.1%); because white skin is more attractive than black skin (34.3%); to attract men (33.8%); to look pretty/fashionable (28.9%); because women with white skin are treated better than women with dark skin (28.2%); and to gain self-confidence (26.9%). The results of the multivariate logistic regression model indicated more favorable attitudes toward the use of SLP in those who had a family member who bleached, and in older students who were aged 20-22 years and ≥ 23 years. Conclusion: Despite the high levels of awareness of the health risks of using SLP among female Sudanese students, they continue to report favorable attitudes toward using these products.