Faces left botched by tempting online advertisements and beauty parlors, posing grave health risks

Despite increasing complaints, authorities concerned have been neglecting the alarming surge of online platforms and beauty parlors deceiving people through attractive advertisement for facial treatment, leaving the public health at risk

Rita Lamsal

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: A 34-year-old woman from Bishalnagar in Kathmandu sought to improve her complexion by visiting various beauty parlors. However, her hopes were dashed when she noticed melasma on her face. Despite trying different treatments and creams recommended by different parlors, her condition worsened. It finally dawned on her that the root of the problem lay in the lack of expertise at the places she had visited.

A 49-year-old woman, who recently came back from Romania, discovered melasma on her face. Her friends noticed the condition and suggested she visit a beauty parlor to have it cured. However, instead of any improvement, her face ended up botched with melasma becoming more prominent.

These two instances serve as representative cases, shedding light on the detrimental effects caused by unqualified beauty parlors. These cases highlight the negative impact beauty parlors have on people’s health, despite claiming to be experts in skincare. 

These parlors often charge high fees while lacking the necessary expertise to provide proper skincare treatments. They (parlors) claim to be experts in skincare but lack necessary knowledge and skills. As a result, they provide substandard treatments that result in adverse effects on the customers’ skin health.

The alarming trend of individuals spending exorbitant amounts of money, up to Rs 50,000, in a single parlor session without fully understanding the potential side effects is a cause for concern.

While doing this story, Nepal Live Today found that beauty parlors in Kathmandu do not have experts, and they proceed with ‘treatment’, disregarding the possible consequences on the patients. This issue becomes even more severe when it comes to procedures like botox.

Talking to the patients, we found that individuals have experienced severe complications after undergoing treatments at these parlors. It was found that patients were unable to open their eyes or have even ended up with a disfigured appearance after a session.

After realizing the urgency for proper medical attention, the 34-year-old woman from Bishalnagar, knocked the doors of Dr Sabina Bhattarai, a dermatologist. “She [the patient]’s face was botched as she applied creams without proper checkup. Currently, we are treating her, and her condition is gradually improving,” Bhattarai told Nepal Live Today.

Dr Bhattarai shared another horrifying story. A 30-year-old woman, lured by online advertisements, purchased creams for melasma. She developed allergies, and her skin became thinner. “After she came for a checkup, I found her condition had worsened due to the use of creams recommended by the online pharmacy,” Dr Bhattarai said.

Last month, a 41-year-old female patient visited senior dermatologist Bhaskar Mohan Kayastha complaining of melasma. She had botched her face after applying melacare cream on her face.

“I had applied creams recommended by my friends. But after I experienced redness, itchiness, I visited Dr Kayastha,” she told Nepal Live Today.

According to Dr Kayastha, the trend of using creams and medicines without proper checkups and recommendations from medical doctors is on the rise. “People are using products lured by attractive online advertisements. These products and treatments offered by parlors have severe health impacts on patients,” he said.

Lately, the trend of airing attractive advertisements on Tiktok about remedies to cure melasma is on the rise. A team of Nepal Live Today reached out to 15 dermatologists registered with the Nepal Medical Council. The number of patients affected by beauty parlors is increasing, as certain remedies used by these parlors have adverse effects on the skin. 

“When these substances react with the skin, they cause corrosion and contribute to the growth of melasma. Beauty parlors often utilize creams containing steroids to provide a temporary glow to the skin during facials. However, over time, the skin undergoes harmful changes, leading to numerous cases being registered in hospitals,” the dermatologists say. “This alarming trend highlights the need for stricter regulations and safety measures within the beauty industry to protect customers from these potential risks.” 

Worried by this increasing trend, the Society of Skin, Sex and Leprosy Specialists of Nepal has filed a complaint at the Nepal Medical Council. According to the Council, it has been looking into the case. However, there has not been any action by the concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Population.

According to Dr Bhattarai, even medical doctors pursuing their MD degrees often lack adequate education on this subject. “They need further training for botox. The absence of government monitoring in Nepal has led to a concerning situation where unqualified individuals are carrying out botox injections. It is crucial for the government to establish regulatory measures to protect the public, and ensure only qualified professionals perform these procedures,” he added.

Despite receiving complaints, the Nepal Medical Council has remained silent and unresponsive regarding the concerns against parlors and beauty salons. The complaints are against De Kosmo Nepal, Skin Care Nepal, Frasuge Skin Care, Poonam Beauty Parlour, Sandra Beauty Parlour, Nirjara Beauty Parlour, and Professional Beauty Parlour, among others.

According to Dr Krishna Adhikari, registrar of the Nepal Medical Council, cases of unauthorized treatments have been reported to the council. “Such cases have increased, and nurses, paramedics, beauticians, and other healthcare workers, claiming to be skin specialists, are providing treatment to patients, leading to complaints.”

The council is responsible for scrutinizing such complaints, according to him. “In the initial phase, the council sends letters seeking clarification from the accused involved in the reported cases.” 

However, there have been no actions taken by the council against them. Regarding the matter, the registrar clarified: “We do not take action just based on complaints alone. We first study the qualifications of individuals accused and seek clarification on their qualifications before taking actions.”

Dermatologists say the negligence in the field of skin treatment must stop. “Many patients who have visited our hospital have suffered due to improper skin treatments. Recently I treated a patient whose condition had worsened after receiving creams, facials, and hydra facials from an inexperienced beautician,’ said dermatologist Dr Dharmendra Karna. “It is crucial to raise awareness that skin diseases should be treated by doctors, not beauticians.” 

The Nepal Medical Council Act does not allow just anyone to administer treatments.  Section 26 of the Act states that individuals who are not registered with the council are prohibited from practicing medicine. It states:  “Except for registered medical practitioners, other individuals are not authorized to engage in the medical profession, either directly or indirectly.”

According to Bharat Bhattarai, the then Director General of the Department of Drug Administration, it lacks the authority to regulate the use of medicines, instruments, and substances used in cosmetic treatments. “The responsibility for regulating and controlling cosmetic substances lies with our department, but we have been unable to do so,” said Bhattarai. “We have limited resources, and the department itself is understaffed. We are also unable to monitor the online sale and distribution of medicines as the Drug Act is outdated. On what basis shall the DDA take action against the online medicine sellers? The Drug Act needs to be revised,” he said.

Regarding the inspection of technological health supplies, Bhattarai said there is a lack of manpower and resources within the department, despite the existence of a system for such inspections.