What is Argyria?
Argyria or argyrosis is a rare skin condition caused by prolonged exposure or ingestion of colloidal silver products or silver dust. It is characterized by a blue or bluish-grey skin. It can also affect deep tissues also. There are two types of argyria:
Generalized argyria – It affects vast areas of skin especially the visible surface of the body.
Local argyria – It affects the limited areas of the body and may seem as blue patches of skin. It affects parts of the mucous membrane or the conjunctiva.
Symptoms of Argyria
The main symptom of argyria is an appearance of blue color on the skin. There are some symptoms which are noticeable before discoloration of the skin. If you are working in silver mines or if you are exposed to silver by any means then you should check out for these early symptoms:
The body tries to dispose of silver through the kidneys via urine, sweat, and through the hair and nails. So the traces of silver can be seen in urine, sweat, hair and nails.
Silver gets stored in the nail beds before being discharged.
If the skin under the nail turns blue, it may indicate that you have overconsumed silver.
Causes of Argyria:
Argyria can occur both in humans and animals. The cause of argyria is prolonged intake of silver products. Exposure or ingestion of silver products leads silver compounds to accumulate gradually in the skin or various parts of the body. They are deposited as microscopic particles in the skin, and the outcome is dark pigment. This gives the skin a blue or dark blue color and the condition is called argyria. Argyria can affect eyes also as eyes are exposed to the silver compounds.
Treatment of Argyria
Ingestion of colloidal silver is widely used for the treatment of argyria.
5% hydroquinone treatment may be used to reduce the number of silver granules in the upper dermis and around sweat glands and thus lessen the number of melanocytes.
Sunscreens and opaque cosmetics may be helpful in preventing further pigmentation.
Selenium and sulfur may be used as they form complexes with silver and thus reducing the metabolism and toxicity of silver.