The use of mercury preparations of various types in the treatment of disorders in childhood has been widespread for many generations. The value of mercury is beyond question, and the fact that few reports appear in the literature concerning idiosyncrasy to, or poisonings caused by, the local application of preparations containing it attests to the relatively safe character of such preparations. It has been estimated that in the United States at least one million packages of ammoniated mercury ointment are sold annually. This does not include the amounts of other commonly used ointments and lotions of mercury prescribed by members of the medical profession.
Mercury-containing preparations applied locally may cause reactions characterized by varying degrees of local irritation. The mildest reaction is limited to the area of application and consists simply of a mild erythema. In severe reactions, the area of erythema may spread to cover the entire body and
GIBEL H, KRAMER B. IDIOSYNCRASY TO MERCURY PREPARATIONS IN CHILDHOODREPORT OF TWO CASES OF REACTIONS TO 5 PER CENT AMMONIATED MERCURY OINTMENT AND MERCURY BICHLORIDE SOLUTION (1:4,000). Am J Dis Child. 1943;66(2):155–159. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1943.02010200055008