What Can Mercury Do to Your Skin?

What can mercury do to your skin?

Mercury is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems, including brain damage and kidney damage. It is especially harmful to pregnant women and children, who can absorb it through their breast milk. It also can get into the food we eat, including fish and other seafood.

Eating low-contaminant fish (fish that have less mercury) is a good way to keep your mercury levels down, but you should still limit your exposure to high-mercury fish if possible.


Your doctor may do a blood and urine test to find out if you have a high level of mercury in your body. If the tests show that you have a high mercury level, your doctor will give you medication to help remove the metals from your body and treat your symptoms. This treatment is called chelation therapy.


Most people are exposed to low levels of mercury, and this exposure usually occurs through continuous or intermittent long term contact. However, some people are exposed to higher levels, which is known as acute exposure. This type of exposure often occurs as a result of an accident or other emergency.

Acute mercury poisoning can be caused by inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure. Symptoms may include tremors, sleepiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and memory loss.

If you think you have experienced mercury poisoning, call your local poison control center. They can advise you on how to deal with the problem and provide a list of hospitals that can treat it.

Medical care is available at the hospital if you have severe symptoms. Your provider will ask about your history of possible exposure, and might also monitor your temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and breathing.


After you tell your doctor about your symptoms, they might do a blood and urine test to find the level of mercury in your body. This test can take a while to come back with a diagnosis. Your doctor will then decide what other tests or treatments are needed.

Your doctor might also recommend you change your diet or reduce the amount of seafood that you eat. Some types of fish, such as shark and king mackerel, are especially high in mercury.

Other fish, such as scallops and swordfish, are relatively low in mercury and can help you avoid the risks associated with eating too much mercury-rich fish.

You should avoid the use of skin lightening creams containing mercury, since it can lead to serious health problems. This includes brain and nervous system damage, liver and kidney damage, as well as death.

In September 2019, a woman was admitted to a Sacramento hospital with a semi-comatose state after using a Pond’s-labeled skin cream that was tainted with mercury. The mercury was not added by the Pond’s manufacturer but was sourced from an informal network of distributors who purchased it in Mexico.

Because of the health risks involved, mercury-containing products should not be sold to consumers in the United States. Sellers and distributors who do this are subject to enforcement actions, including seizure and injunctions.