Running out of options, doctors try a little bit of everything photo: BBC
Running out of options, doctors try a little bit of everything
photo: BBC

Medical staff at Rumbek Hospital in Lakes State, South Sudan, are treating a sever cause of skin-bleaching after a local girl, known for her extreme skin-bleaching pastime, starting becoming ‘transparent’ just hours after using a body lotion that the authorities say is a counterfeit skin-lightening product.

The condition of the 30-something year old patient is said to be gradually deteriorating into ‘invisibility’ – a state where she becomes literally invisible to the naked eye.

Doctors at the hospital are marvelled and clueless about what else could be done to ‘bring back colour’ and texture to the invisible woman. They are more accustomed to treating gunshot wounds and injuries caused by inter-tribal cattle rustling but nothing of this scale and level.

Some eye witnesses who saw the woman when she walk into hospital said she looked like a ghost from a Nigerian/Nollywood movie. Others disagree saying she looked more like a corpse floating on acid for some days.

The story and warnings from health officials is already making rounds across the cattle camps.

Experts familiar with the reactionary methods of the caretaker governor of the state expect a blanket ban on all body lotions and cosmetics, the closure of all beauty salons, and possibly the arrest of all natural or otherwise lighter-skinned citizens. As a replacement, the multi-purpose traditional lotion – a mix of burned cow-dung, milk butter and goat pee, will be reintroduced. Together with a powder from the same ingredients, the replacement also serves the purposes of toilet soup, mosquito repellent and shampoo.

“Our naturally beautiful, smooth and black skin that is earning supermodels like Alek Wek millions of dollars came about as a result of the use of this traditional crème for many centuries. Our ladies do not know that.. instead they learned the habit of smearing those poisonous imported products that turns them into Nigerian ghosts and invisible women… that, we will not allow to happen here in Lakes State,” said one naturally black health official.


Various studies have concluded that the ‘cleansing’ effect of the traditional lotion is relative to the original or initial ‘purity’ of the subject. Other studies have been inconclusive in their findings of whether mosquitoes are repelled by the stunk of the mix or by its chemical composition. What is not clear though is whether the present day girl will resolve to use the traditional body lotion or opt for cooking oil as a supplement once the ban is in place.

An increasing number of women and men across the globe use skin-bleaching products. One ‘cosmetics queen’ from Ghana is trying to battle the habit [link].