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What is Argyria?

Updated on July 26, 2017

Argyria is a relatively rare disorder that is associated with silver poisoning. This article tells you how argyria develops and the subsequent treatment and prognosis of the condition.

Argyria develops when one is exposed to silver or silver-containing agents. The characteristic symptom of argyria is the bluish or grey blue discoloration of the skin. the discoloration may be generalized, i.e. all over the body; or may be localized, to one particular part.

What is Argyria? Understanding Argyria

Argyria occurs when the skin is exposed to silver on a regular basis, and it turns blue over a period of time. Once the disorder develops, it is rather tricky to manage. Persistent and continued contact with the metal, via skin, orally, or inhalation, can trigger brutal complications.

By and large, silver is only a little bit toxic to humans, thus, the risk of serious impairment from clinical exposure is slight. The clinical use of silver comprises of management of external infections. They are very frequently used in certain eye drops. Long term ingestion or inhalation of colloidal silver is known to trigger argyria. The condition is not life threatening, but is cosmetically undesirable.

How Does Argyria Develop? Argyria Causes

Some of the leading causes associated with the development of argyria include:

  • Those individuals who work in the silver manufacturing industry, mine the metal or consume medicines that comprise of silver compounds tend to develop the disorder.
  • Surgical silver sutures and silver dental fillings may trigger argyria.
  • Applications such as nasal sprays that contain silver compounds affect the mucus lining of the nasal passage and causes localized argyria. Likewise, tattoo colors have silver, and produce localized argyria. Certain eye drops use silver as well.
  • Prolonged use of medications that have colloidal silver affect the organs of the body and result in universal argyria.

How is Argyria Diagnosed?

Usually, the medical history will reveal the cause of the blue discoloration; also, the doctor will carry out by an examination of the blue patches under fluorescent X-ray. Skin tissue biopsy is of diagnostic value, too. On an average, human beings have about one milligram of silver in the body, when four grams of silver builds up in the body, argyria occurs.

Your Doctor will Prescribe Hydroquinone Cream to Deal with the Blue Discoloration

Those Suffering from Argyria need ample Sun Protection

How to Treat Argyria? Argyria Prognosis

Treatment for argyria focuses on reducing exposure and managing the complications.

  • Treatment for argyria basically concentrates on stopping the person’s excessive exposure to the metal immediately. Unrelenting and sustained exposure eventually leads to a range of complications.
  • Usually, the doctor recommends hydroquinone cream which helps reduce the blue discoloration. Some skin experts support laser surgery to manage the blue-grey discoloration better.
  • You need to use sun screen to protect and ward off too much of sun exposure. Given that, there are not many treatment options to manage argyria, the highlight is always on averting the disorder.
  • People working in the silver factory ought to wear protective gears to stave off undue exposure to metal and its forms.
  • In developed countries, argyria is fairly uncommon; provided that, one is not consuming silver containing medications and / or supplements on a daily basis.

The outcome for a case of argyria is quite poor, in view of the fact that effective cures for the condition are practically nonexistent.


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