Argyria is a medical condition that occurs due to excessive exposure to the chemical forms of silver, silver dust, or silver compounds. The most striking manifestation of argyria is that the skin turns blue or blue-grey in color.
What is Argyria?
Argyria is a bluish discoloration of the skin resulting from too much exposure to silver. Once the condition develops, it is quite difficult to treat it. Sustained exposure to silver, either via skin contact, inhalation or consumption, results in severe complications.
There are 2 kinds of argyria: localized and universal. Topical applications like nasal sprays containing silver compounds cause localized argyria, by affecting the mucus membranes in the nasal passage. Tattoo colors too have a silver base, which can trigger localized argyria. Certain drugs / medications have colloidal silver and protracted usage of these drugs can affect the organs of the body and cause universal argyria.
What Causes Argyria? What are the Risk Factors for Argyria?
• Silver metal workers, those working in silver manufacturing factories, those who mine the silver metal and individuals who take silver containing supplements can develop argyria.
• Silver sutures used for surgeries, dental procedures and silver dental fillings are significant causes for the development of argyria as well.
• Once the disorder develops, the bluish discoloration of the skin is relatively diffuse, and will be first noted on areas of the skin that have received the exposure. After the skin is affected, the silver tends to affect the viscera r the internal organs as well.
Argyria is diagnosed by taking a detailed medical history and by conducting an examination of the blue-grey patches under fluorescent x ray. Biopsy of the skin tissue at sites that appear argyria-afflicted may also demonstrate evidence of excessive silver. Normally, humans have approximately 1 milligram of silver in their bodies, argyria occurs when 4 grams of silver has accumulated within the body. However, it is commoner for people to have 20 - 40 grams of silver in the body, before exhibiting symptoms of argyria.
Treatment of Argyria
The treatment plan for argyria focuses on ending the undue exposure to silver. Continued exposure can lead to severe complications. Your doctor will recommend a topical hydroquinone ointment that minimizes the bluish discoloration. Some doctors advocate laser surgery.
Patients suffering from argyria are advised to use sun screen to block out too much sun exposure. In view of the fact that, there are few treatments for argyria, the spotlight is always on preventing the disease.
Protective gear must be worn by workers in the silver factories to ward off occupational exposure to silver and its chemical forms.
Indeed, in the developed nations, argyria is somewhat rare; as long as, people do not take silver containing supplements on a regular basis.
The prognosis for argyria is relatively poor, considering that there is no successful cure for the condition.