Introduction: Black and satinee skin has been a beauty quality in our environment. Then bleaching became very popular in our communities but not much is known about skin habits. The objective of this study was to identify skin care habits of patients in Yaounde.

Patients and Methods: This study took place in the dermatology clinic of the Yaounde General Hospital, including all patients seen from October 2001 to September 2002. The skin care habits were compared with respect to sex and age. The level of statistical significance was p < 5%.

Results: During the study period, 714 medical files (418 females and 296 males) were reviewed. In men as well as in women, savon de Marseille and antiseptic soap were respectively the first and second most used bathing soaps. However, women had a statistically significant preference for bleaching, super fat and exfoliative soaps (78.0% vs 22.0%, 69.0% vs 31.0%, 87.0% vs 13.0%) with respect to men. Users of antiseptic soaps had eczemas (35%). Only 16.0% of women did not apply daily body lotions as against 84% of men (p = 0.0001). The use of bleaching lotion (13% overall) was clearly more widespread in women than in men (87.0% vs 13.0%; p = 0.0001). The use of topical corticosteroids was associated with acne.

Conclusion: A relatively high proportion of our patients use bleaching products and antiseptic soaps. The use of antiseptic soaps and the additional of topical steroids in commercial preparations may become a serious health problem if left uncontrolled.

Keywords: Skin care, black, bleaching..
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