CDC Warns Skin-lightening Creams Containing Organic Methyl Mercury Can Cause Nerve Damage
It was reported that a skin-lightening cream
from Mexico that contained toxic mercury
left a California woman with significant central nervous system damage
, doctors report in a case study. Whats more alarming is that after the report, more media outlets are reporting that similar creams that are being made in China are finding its way all around the world from South-East Asia, India, Japan, Australia, Europe, Canada and also In South America and The African Continent.
Despite many weeks after her initial hospitalization, the woman requires "ongoing tube feeding for nutritional support" and can't speak or care for herself, according to the authors.
The skin lightening cream
contained a form of organic mercury
. This is the first known case of methylmercury
poisoning in the United States in nearly 50 years.
Study senior author Dr. Paul Blanc, of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and California Poison Control System told Thailand Medical
News, "Most harmful skin-lightening creams
are intentionally tainted with inorganic mercury.
But in this case, the patient used a skin-lightening
product containing organic mercury
, which is far more toxic
Dr Blanc added, “Organic mercury
can cause "profound damage" to the central nervous system that may even worsen after use ends.”
The female patient first sought medical help for involuntary muscle movement and weakness in her shoulders and arms, the case study reported. After two weeks of outpatient care, she was admitted to a hospital with symptoms that included blurry vision, unsteady gait and difficulty speaking. Blood and urine tests confirmed mercury
Her relatives told doctors that she had been using skin-lightening creams
from Mexico twice a day, according to the case study published Dec. 19 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
The female patient underwent chelation therapy, a treatment for heavy metal poisoning, but her condition didn't improve. She was transferred to UCSF, where tests found that the skin cream
she used contained methylmercury
Dr Blanc further added, "Central nervous system toxicity, as in this case, is the hallmark of organic mercury
, it typically comes on after weeks to months of exposure. Once manifested, it quickly progresses and often worsens, despite removal of any further exposure. Unfortunately, chelation therapy, which is effective in inorganic mercury poisoning, has not been established to be efficacious for methylmercury
Buyers can take several steps to protect themselves, sai
d study co-author Dr. Craig Smollin, of UCSF's emergency department and medical director of the California Poison Control System's San Francisco Division.
When buying skin creams
, check that the product has a protective foil seal under the lid, Smollin advised.
Dr.Smollin added, "Purchase creams
from well-known stores and avoid those with hand-made labels or without labels. Ingredients must be listed, and directions and warnings should be in English."
Reference : Methylmercury Toxicity from a Skin Lightening Cream Obtained from Mexico ,Weekly / December 20, 2019 / 68(50);1166–1167