Argyria (Silver Poisoning)
Argyria is caused by prolonged contact with or ingestion of silver salts. Argyria is characterized by gray to gray-black staining of the skin and mucous membranes. Silver may be deposited in the skin either from industrial exposure or as a result of medications containing silver salts. The most common cause of argyria is mechanical impregnation of the skin by small silver particles in workers in silver mining, silver refining, silverware and metal alloy manufacturing, metallic films on glass and china, electroplating solutions, and photographic processing. Cases of argyria have followed the prolonged use of silver salts for the irrigation of urethral or nasal mucous membranes, in eye drops, wound dressing, and the excessive use of an oral smoking remedy containing silver acetate. Argyria has also been attributed to surgical and dental procedures, also silver amalgam-tattooing, and silver sutures used in abdominal surgery. Blue macules have appeared at sites of acupuncture needles and silver earring sites. Great individual variability exists in the length of exposure and total dose needed to bring out the signs of argyria. There is no satisfactory treatment.