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Research Article Open Access
1.1 Background: The global prevalence of skin depigmentation/skin bleaching among blacks, estimated at 35%, is on the rise and is associated with a host of negative health and medical consequences. Current etiological approaches do not fully capture the emotional and psychological underpinnings of skin bleaching. The current study investigated the potential mediating role of depression, or post-traumatic stress symptoms (avoidance and hyperarousal) on the relationship between childhood physical and sexual abuse (CPSA) and skin bleaching. 1.2 Methods: A total of 1226 university participants (ages 18-30 years and 63.4% female) from three Caribbean countries (Jamaica, Barbados, and Grenada) provided data for the current analysis. They all completed self-reported measures of general demographic information along with the short screening scale for posttraumatic stress disorder (DSM-IV), childhood trauma, and skin bleaching questions. 1.3 Results: The prevalence of skin bleaching in our study was 25.4%. Our findings showed that individuals who bleached their skin were more likely to have been abused as children (21.6% versus 13.5%, p<.001), were more likely to have significant symptoms of trauma (34.1% versus 24.0%, p=.005), and were more likely to have significant depression (43.7% versus 35.1%, p=.032). We found that trauma-related hyperarousal symptoms positively mediated the relationship between childhood physical and sexual abuse and skin bleaching (Indirect Effect=0.03, p<.05), while avoidance (Indirect Effect=.000, p>.05) and depressive (Indirect Effect=.005, p>.05) symptoms did not. 1.4 Conclusion: The presence of trauma symptoms and childhood physical and sexual abuse (CPSA) may increase the likelihood of skin bleaching. Findings suggest that further exploration is needed to ascertain if the presence of skin bleaching warrants is being also screened for trauma.
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Author(s): Caryl James*, Azizi A. Seixas, Abigail Harrison, Girardin Jean-Louis, Mark Butler, Ferdinand Zizi and Alafia Samuels
Skin bleaching, Childhood trauma, Depression, Young adults, Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress