Urinary mercury in twelve cases of cutaneous mercurous chloride (calomel) exposure: effect of sodium 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate (DMPS) therapy

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1997;35(6):653-5. doi: 10.3109/15563659709001249.


Objective: To evaluate clinical symptoms and urinary mercury before and after chelation therapy in subjects with chronic cutaneous mercurous chloride (HgCl; calomel) exposure.

Subjects: Twelve women from 19-45 years who had used a facial cream which contained HgCl (5.9%) for 2 to 10 years.

Design: Twenty-four hour urine samples were collected for basal urine mercury. All the subjects received a 5-day cycle of oral sodium 2,3 dimercaptopropane-l-sulfonate (Dimaval capsules 100 mg) 200 mg/d on an outpatient basis. The urine mercury excretion was monitored 24 hours after the first dose and 72 hours after the last dose in eight subjects.

Result: Exanthem and tremor were detected in two of 12 subjects. The range of urine mercury was 180 to 1876 micrograms/g creatinine. A significant increase in the urinary mercury excretion was observed in the first 24 hours after beginning sodium 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate.

Conclusion: Chronic topical application of 5.9% HgCl cream was associated with clinical mercurialism in two subjects and with high urinary mercury level in all the cases. Sodium 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulfonate was effective in increasing urine mercury.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Chelating Agents / administration & dosage
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mercury / urine*
  • Mercury Compounds / poisoning*
  • Mercury Poisoning / drug therapy*
  • Mercury Poisoning / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Ointments / poisoning
  • Skin Absorption / drug effects
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Unithiol / administration & dosage
  • Unithiol / therapeutic use*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Mercury Compounds
  • Ointments
  • Unithiol
  • Mercury
  • calomel