SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued a statement on Thursday (June 9) warning people against using skin cream "Star Cream", after the product was found to contain a potent steroid that could lead to adverse health effects after prolonged use.
This comes after a four-month-old infant developed Cushing's syndrome, a hormonal disorder that leads to excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol.
The cream had been used on him to treat diaper rash since he was two weeks old.
The authority said the baby was taken to hospital for treatment after persistent vomiting and having his eyeballs turned inwards towards the nose, as well as a bulging skull - a sign of high intracranial pressure.
While the baby has been discharged and is recovering at home, the HSA added that multiple follow-ups would be required to monitor for potential side effects of long-term steroid use.
The side effects can include vision problems and an enlarged heart.
HSA said: "See a doctor as soon as possible, if your child or other family members are using 'Star Cream', as it contains potent medicinal ingredients."
The authority added that stopping use of the cream suddenly and without medical supervision may result in worsening of underlying skin conditions and other serious withdrawal symptoms such as low blood pressure.
The cream was sold on local e-commerce platforms, such as Carousell and Shopee, and social media platforms such as Facebook, where it was marketed as being fully natural with herbal extracts, HSA said.
It was claimed that the cream was antibacterial and had anti-fungal properties while containing no steroids. It was also marketed as suitable for all skin types.
Many consumers had also left reviews on e-commerce platforms about how effective the cream was in alleviating their chronic skin conditions.
While HSA has already worked with these platforms to remove their listings of "Star Cream", it warned all other informal sellers and suppliers of the cream to stop selling it immediately.
It said: "HSA will not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against anyone who sells and/or supplies products found to be adulterated with potent medicinal ingredients."
If found to be selling the cream by the HSA, sellers and suppliers may be fined a maximum of $10,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.
The HSA also advised consumers to buy medical products only from reputable pharmacies and established retailers, and be wary of products that promise quick results or carry claims to be all natural, herbal and without steroids.
This is because they often contain potent ingredients that can lead to severe health effects.
In the case of parents buying products, including skin products, for babies and young children, the authority advised particular caution since toxic ingredients can be easily absorbed and cause negative reactions in smaller bodies even at a lower concentration.
The HSA said: "Consult a doctor if your child requires prolonged use of products intended for treatment to ensure that these products are appropriate."
Members of the public who have any further information on the sale and supply of "Star Cream" may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch on 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.