Argyria Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Argyria syndrome is a disease caused by the prolonged intake of silver in the form of salts or metal and it is characterized by the skin and some organs of the patient becoming gray, blue, or bluish gray, especially in areas exposed to the sun.

The Argyria can be acquired by industrial exposure or as a result of the intake of medicines containing silver salts. Argyria has also been attributed to surgical and dental procedures such as performing tattoos and placing silver amalgam in dental repairs.

Argyria syndrome is also known as “the disease of the living dead.” Until recently, the process that caused prolonged exposure to salts or silver metal to have such consequences on the skin was not understood, but recently, in studies conducted at Brown University, it has been discovered that the mechanism that produces that singular color in the patient is neither more nor less than the same mechanism that occurs in the field of photography.

Let us find out Argyria’s causes, symptoms, and treatment:


The most common cause of Argyria is the impregnation of the skin by small particles of silver during a long exposure, especially in workers involved in silver mining, refining silver, silverware and the manufacture of metal alloys, metal films, glass and porcelain workers, workers in electroplating, and photographic processing.

The use of silver salts for a longer period of time for nasal irrigation or mucous membranes of the urethra, for eye, drops, and for wound dressing can cause this disorder.

Among the complications that can cause Argyria are: kidney damage, neurological, chronic fatigue, and etc.

Argyria is an irreversible disease. Once that large amount of silver is deposited in the organism it is not eliminated, leaving the patient with that characteristic coloration for life.


Argyria has a permanent disorder with these characteristic symptoms:

  • The major symptom of Argyria is the blue or gray coloration of some areas of the skin.
  • Patients with Argyria have stained gums with grayish-blue spots.
  • The blue affected part of the skin can be spread to other areas of the skin for instance hands, nose, forehead, and other parts of the body which are exposed commonly to the sun.

A normal person has around 1 mg of the silver amount in the body but Argyria disorder develops when this amount of silver exceeds 4 g. In most of the cases, symptoms start to develop only when the silver amount reaches around 20 g to 40 g.


The skin discoloration due to Argyria will not go away. However, doctors suggest that the use of sunscreens can help to minimize the risk of discoloration from spreading to other parts of the skin. Using concealment makeup can help affected people with very pronounced blue-skin coloration.

If the patient uses 5% of hydroquinone treatment on the skin, it may curb the quantity of silver from the skin.

Also, Laser Therapy may help to treat Argyria.