Severe generalized argyria secondary to ingestion of colloidal silver protein

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2003 May;28(3):254-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.2003.01214.x.


Argyria is a rare cause of cutaneous discolouration caused by silver deposition. We report a case of dramatic and diffuse argyria secondary to ingestion of colloidal silver protein over a 1-year period. Stained electron microscopy with spectral analysis was used to confirm the clinical diagnosis. Silver-protein complexes are deposited in the skin and reduced to inert silver salts by sunlight in a process similar to that harnessed in photography. Our patient had obtained the silver for consumption via mail order. It had been advertised as a cure for a variety of diseases. Colloidal silver protein is commercially available as a 'food supplement', hence circumventing the strict controls placed on medicines.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Argyria / etiology*
  • Argyria / pathology
  • Complementary Therapies / adverse effects
  • Facial Dermatoses / chemically induced*
  • Facial Dermatoses / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Silver / adverse effects*


  • Silver