Skin bleaching is a widespread phenomenon in spite of their potentially toxic health effects.
This study aimed to determine if such products are used in Sweden in particular by pregnant women, furthermore to explore immigrant women's view skin bleaching.
455 pregnant women completed a questionnaire, which were statistically analysed. Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with immigrant women, content analysis was used to assess the data.
Skin bleaching products were used by 2.6% of pregnant women, significantlly more by women born in non-European countries. Motivating factors were associated with the concept of beauty together with social and economic advantages. The women had low awareness of the potential health risks of the products. Regulations on the trade of skin bleaching products have not effectively reduced the availability of the products in Sweden nor the popularity of skin bleaching.
There is need for further research especially among pregnant women and possible effects on newborns. Products should be tested for toxicity. Public health information should be developed and health care providers educated and aware of this practice, due to their potential negative health implications.