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January 1937


Author Affiliations

Professor of Dermatology and Syphilology, Northwestern University Medical School CHICAGO

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1937;35(1):67-77. doi:10.1001/archderm.1937.01470190070010

Although silver has been used as a medicine since ancient times, the first direct reference to argyria is that of Fourcroy1 in 1791, which is as follows:

IV. Peculiar Effect of Nitrate of Silver in a Patient.

A protestant minister in the suburbs of Hamburg, suffering from an obstruction of the liver, took, on the advice of a quack, a solution of silver nitrate. After several months of this treatment, his skin gradually changed in color and finally became almost wholly black. Remaining so for several years, it then began to get lighter in color.

This observation, which was given me by M. Swediaur, is interesting, for it seems that the silver solution taken internally must act first on the stomach and then through all of the organs before being carried into the skin. It seems that the salt passed rapidly into the absorbent system. One would gladly follow