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J Dermatol. 1994 Jan;21(1):50-3.

Generalized argyria after habitual use of AgNO3.

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Department of Dermatology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Generalized argyria, the systemic dissemination and tissue deposition of silver-containing particles, is characterized by slate gray discoloration of skin, most pronounced in sun exposed areas. A 33-year-old woman visited our dermatologic clinic complaining of frequent oral ulceration for 10 years and generalized discoloration of her skin for 5 years. She had had her tongue painted with silver nitrate repeatedly 6 years ago for the treatment of oral ulcers. Physical examination showed slate gray discoloration of her skin, most pronounced on the face and neck. The oral mucosa, tongue, sclera, and conjunctiva also had a slightly blue-gray discoloration. Biopsy specimens from the oral mucosa and forearm revealed small brown-black granules scattered in the dermis and basal lamina of eccrine sweat glands, blood vessels, and hair follicles under the light microscope. Tiny black granules were most numerous in the basal laminae of vessels in electron microscopic observation. Energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDXA) confirmed that many of the granules contained silver.

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