Karason does not believe drinking the potion is what caused his discoloration. He believes it happened because he rubbed it on his face to treat a skin problem. A medical condition called Argyria has been linked to such discoloration since the days when silver solutions were used as antibiotics.I wrote about argyria in my book, The World's Worst: A Guide To The Most Disgusting Hideous; Inept, And Dangerous People, Places, And Things On Earth. Here's the excerpt:
Whatever the cause, Karason said it is not easy living life as a blue man.
"I do tend to avoid public places as much as I can," he said.
Karason's girlfriend, Jackie Northrup, said she was surprised at first, but is now used to it.
"The only time now that I really think about it or notice it is if we're out in public and people start staring," she said.
Weirdest Side Effect From from a Quack MedicineLink (Thanks, Emperor!)
The best thing you can hope for from taking a quack medicine is that nothing bad happens to you. The worst thing is you die. The weirdest thing is to you turn blue.
In the early part of the 20th century, medicines containing microscopic silver particles were sold as a way to cure infections. They were popular as nose drops. In the grim era before antibiotics, colloidal silver solutions were one of the only ways to treat infections. While it is true that microscopic silver particles have some germ-killing properties, they've since been replaced by much more effective and safer drugs.
Unfortunately, quick-buck hucksters push colloidal silver on the Internet in the same way that traveling medicine-show scam artists sold bogus remedies out of horse-drawn wagons in the 19th century. They claim that big drug companies and the government have conspired to suppress this miracle drug. They spend a lot of time explaining why their particular version of colloidal silver is the only kind that works. They claim that their colloidal silver nostrums successfully treat acne, AIDS, allergies, appendicitis, arthritis, athleteis foot, bites, bladder infections, blood parasites, boils, bronchitis, burns, cancer, Candidacandida, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, dandruff, diabetes, diphtheria, gonorrhea, hay fever, head lice, hepatitis, herpes, impetigo, leprosy, leukemia, Lyme disease, malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, rheumatism, ringworm, scarlet fever, shingles, ulcers, viruses, warts, and yeast infections, among hundreds of other maladies.
The only thing the hucksters donit claim colloidal silver can treat is argyria, an irreversible blue-gray skin condition caused by the ingestion of silver. That's because colloidal silver causes it.
Argyria first shows up under the fingernails and around the mouth and nose, then spreads across the surface of the skin. The skin literally turns into a living photographic plate (some black- and- white photographs contain silver as the photosensitive material) turning the skin dark when exposed to light and the chemicals in the body. Unfortunately, there's no way to unexpose the skin once it takes on the this ghastly, corpse-like color.
Not surprisingly, people who with argyria say their condition draws a lot of unwanted attention. Strangers stare at them, and little children point in astonishment.
In 1996, a woman named Rosemary told a Canadian reporter what it's like to have argyria. In 1953, when she was 11 years old, her doctor prescribed colloidal silver nose drops for her colds. At the age of 14, a pharmacist looked at her one day and said, Why are you that color? Soon after, it became obvious to everyone that she Rosemary was ash gray colored. She stopped taking the drops, but the condition clear up.
For the rest of her life, insensitive idiots all over the world have confronted her in public: "In Spain, people on the street would yell at me that I was a terrible color," she told the reporter. "I speak Spanish and I learned to yell back. In Germany, people would bluntly ask what was wrong with my face." Seeking a solution, Rosemary underwent dermabrasion to get rid of the layer of stained skin, but it was only partially successful. Her face is now bluish gray with pink blotches.
As a public service, Rosemary has published a Web site to warn people against taking colloidal silver. On it she writes that the only thing she recommends colloidal silver for is as "a gray skin dye -- it is safe, effective, and permanent when used for that purpose."
Previously on Boing Boing:
• Permanent blue skin for silver drinking politician
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects