In 2008 Paul Karason raised awareness of a condition known as argyria after his appearance on Today. His skin had a dark blue tone to it due to excessive exposure to the element silver. Mr. Karason made several television appearances in which he explained that his condition had appeared after ingesting a homemade silver chloride colloid, up to 10 ounces a day, for health purposes. He claims to have seen improvement in his acid reflux and arthritis and hadn’t noticed any negative side effects. It was only after a friend of his pointed out that he looked like he had makeup on his face that he came to the realization that he was blue from head to toe. Mr. Karason passed away in 2013 at the age of 62 due to heart complications that his ex-wife associated with years of smoking. 

Silver is naturally occurring and we can be exposed to silver through food, water, air, and contact with the skin. Most of the time our bodies filter out the excess silver and it exits our body in the form of waste products. If someone has too much silver in their system though, the body cannot filter it out properly. The silver is broken down and enters the bloodstream. Although argyria is not thought to be fatal, it does have severe cosmetic impacts that can affect a person emotionally and socially. Exposure to light can make the skin tone darker so it is often recommended that people with argyria stay out of direct sunlight. There have been laser treatment trials in recent years to try to help reverse the discoloration of the skin’s pigment but there still remains no cure.

People can develop complications due to occupational exposure or by applying salves, eyedrops, or by taking dietary supplements containing silver. Silver has been used by medical professionals for a long time due to its antimicrobial properties. During wartime, silver was applied to bandages to assist in wound healing. Today, it is understood that it is not beneficial to be ingested yet is still used in hospitals on tools and for purposes of water purification. 

Until Next Time


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