Silver is a naturally occurring substance. You come into contact with low levels of silver every day. Traces of silver can be found in food, water, and even in the air.
Silver can enter your body through your mouth, mucus membranes, or skin.
You can develop argyria if you have far too much silver in your body, which generally results from prolonged exposure. When silver reaches your stomach, it prompts a chemical reaction. As the silver breaks down, it enters your bloodstream.
Within a week, most of the silver we consume leaves the body through our feces. Some goes out with urine.
But when you take in too much silver, your body has a tough time keeping up with it. Whatever silver isn’t discarded gets deposited in the skin and other tissues, where it continues to build up. When your skin is then exposed to light, it turns blue-gray.
How do you end up with too much silver in your body?
One way you may end up with too much silver in your body is if your job involves prolonged exposure to silver. This might happen if you work in the silver industry, jewelry industry, or in photographic processing.
Some products you consume or use on your body may also contain silver. These include:
- antimicrobial health tonics
- medication containing silver salts
- colloidal silver dietary supplements, usually marketed as “cure-alls”
- silver sutures used in surgery
- silver dental fillings
In a list of ingredients, silver may be identified as:
- ionic silver
- native silver
- silver alginate
- silver protein
- silver sulphadiazine
- colloidal silver, colloidal silver protein, or true colloidal silver
Using eye drops or makeup that contain silver can also cause localized argyria of the eye.
Wearing silver jewelry or using silver utensils doesn’t usually cause argyria. But in some cases, silver needles used for acupuncture or silver earrings can cause localized argyria.
Dietary supplements that contain silver can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb certain medications, such as:
- quinolone antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), norfloxacin (Noroxin), and ofloxacin
- tetracycline antibiotics
- penicillamine (Cuprimine)