SINGAPORE: The Health Science Authority (HSA) issued a warning on Tuesday (Nov 21) regarding four products on the market, including a skin cream purportedly for eczema that contains exceedingly high amounts of arsenic, a toxic heavy metal.

Two people suffered adverse effects after using the products, the advisory says. HSA warns the public not to buy and use ‘EUZEMA Confidence Revival Cream’, ‘HONEY Q Dietary Supplement Product’, ‘SLIME 7D ADVANCE Slimming Pill’, and ‘FINOS’.  The products have been tested by HSA and found to contain potent or banned ingredients. Sellers and suppliers have also been told to stop selling these products immediately. Otherwise, they may be jailed for as long as two years or be slapped with a S$10,000 fine.

The eczema cream HSA warned against is sold on a Malaysia-based website, www.euzema.com, as well as on Carousell. The three other products were also sold online, including on Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee, and eBay.

“HSA has worked with the local platform administrators to remove the affected listings. Two sellers are assisting with investigations. HSA has also alerted its Malaysian counterpart to these products as they were labelled to be manufactured in Malaysia and sold by sellers or websites based in Malaysia,” the advisory said.

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A doctor reported EUZEMA Confidence Revival Cream to HSA after one of his patients, a man in his 30s, had used it for eczema for a year and experienced purpura (red-violet spots because of small bleeds under the skin). HSA discovered after testing it that it contained ingredients betamethasone and salicylic acid and was over 430 times higher than the allowable limits of arsenic.

The heavy metal may cause skin irritations, contact dermatitis, or rashes when applied to the skin. Moreover, “widespread, prolonged application of products containing high levels of arsenic may lead to arsenic poisoning,” HSA warned.

It also said that betamethasone, a potent steroid, should be used under strict medical supervision due to possible serious adverse effects with inappropriate use. Meanwhile, salicylic acid in high amounts may lead to dry, irritated, and red skin.

Ironically, the product’s website, where the patient had bought it, claimed that ‘EUZEMA Confidence Revival Cream’ is ‘able to beat eczema for good with this powerful natural formula’, ‘steroid-free’, ‘contain 100 per cent all-natural herbs’ and ‘has no side-effects’.

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HSA added that consumers are advised “to see a doctor as soon as possible if you are using ‘EUZEMA Confidence Revival Cream’ as it contains arsenic and a potent steroid, which can cause serious health hazards. Long-term steroid use can suppress the body’s production of steroids, and sudden stopping without medical supervision may cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as adrenal insufficiency leading to confusion, muscle and joint pain, low blood pressure, and fits or shocks.”

Another consumer experienced vomiting and headache after taking ‘FINOS’, and members of the public alerted the HSA to the three weight-loss products, which all claimed to be “herbal and natural.”

The public has also been advised to stop taking the three slimming products and to see a doctor if they feel unwell. “Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of these illegal products may contact HSA’s Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg,” the advisory added.

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