Dermatologic Disease Awareness and Teledermatology


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Are Glutathione Injections Safe or Unsafe

As talked about in previous posts there are many different products available that many women of color use to lighten their skin. The unfortunate reality is that many of these products have life threatening or permanent side effects. Another unfortunate reality is that many users end up abusing the products they use, worsening the side effects. As previously reported in these blogs, popular products are the topical creams hydroquinone and monobenzone. Monobenzone not only can cause minor side effects like burning, itching, redness, and peeling of the skin but it also makes the skin extremely sensitive to the sun and in some cases can cause chemical vitiligo. Many users report their skin becoming very thin and prone to bruising as well. Having your skin be more sensitive to the sun means the likelihood of sunburns which makes your more prone to skin cancer. Dermatologists nationwide and internationally are seeing women and some men of both Hispanic and African descent with severe side effects from the misuse of skin-lightening creams containing monobenzone, many with prescription-strength ingredients, which are sold in beauty stores and sometimes illegally online.


Another widely used option and new fad in many plastic surgery offices is glutathione shots. These are relatively new on the market and offices that offer it guarantee brighter skin. Glutathione is an antioxidant that is naturally synthesized in the body by the liver.[1] It is also found in fruits, vegetables, and meats and is often called the “mother of all antioxidants.” It is usually used to treat cataracts, glaucoma, alcoholism, asthma, and side effects from cancer treatment. But now it is being offered as an injection for skin lightening. Why so many abuse the injections is thought to be because of the advertising of the service. Many services claim it will give “brighter, lighter and glowing skin” and change “dull dark skin to beautiful and bright.”[2] This advertising makes many believe they need to change their dark skin to be lighter and overuse products that promise beautiful.

The supposed whitening caused by too much glutathione in the body is theoretically possible but has not been proven. While there hasn’t been a many studies on the subject and glutathione shot safety is still subject to debate, the co-relation between skin cancer and glutathione use has yet to be proven in the same way that hydroquinone and monobenzone have.[3] There are no known side effects with the injections, and are considered much safer than hydroquinone and monobenzone use. While there are no known side effects, this is because there are very little studies that have been done on glutathione in relation to skin whitening. While whitening should be possible with glutathione, many times the color achieved may not be the color expected depending on the tint of your skin.

While there is still many studies and testing to be done on these injections and skin whitening, it is a safer option for skin whitening than hydroquinone and monobenzone. But these injections should never be abused as little is known about the side effects.



[1] Zhai, Hongbo. "Skin-Whitening Products." Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology Second Edition (2005): 457-63.

[2] Chavez, Leilani. "White Skin Comes with a Price." ABS-CBN News. ABC News.

[3] Zhai, Hongbo. "Skin-Whitening Products." Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology Second Edition (2005): 457-63.