Our goal at Healthy Skin Solutions is to educate and inform our readers about trends in skincare and healthy ways to care for the skin. Our Mission is to provide timely information on all things that affect your skin. With that in mind, we feel obliged to inform our readers about a recent toxic alert concerning some anti-aging and skin lightening products.
Recently the Food and Drug Administration alerted the public that some imported beauty products sold in the U.S. may contain high levels of mercury which could lead to brain damage and kidney failure.
“The products are marketed as skin lighteners and anti-aging treatments that remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles. Adolescents also may use these products as acne treatments. Products with this toxic metal have been found in at least seven states”, says Gary Cody, the National Health Fraud Coordinator of the FDA.
So far, the FDA has found these toxic products in Texas, California, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota, Illinois and New York.
See full report by the FDA: Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products
The Dangers of Mercury Exposure
The Center for Disease Control says exposure to mercury has serious consequences, and even a small amount can cause diarrhea, skin irritation, eye irritation, lung damage, increase in blood pressure or heart rate.
“Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences,” says Charles Lee, M.D., a senior medical advisor at the FDA. “It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children.”
According to FDA toxicologist Mike Bolger, Ph.D. you don’t have to use the product yourself to be exposed to its dangers. He says “People—particularly children—can get mercury in their bodies from breathing in mercury vapors if a member of the household uses a skin cream containing mercury.”
He added that babies and young children risk ingesting mercury if they touch anyone who has used these products or get cream on their hands and then put their hands and fingers into their mouth.
Remember, the products in question are all imported and many of these products have ingredients that are not written in English.
If you suspect your foreign product, check the ingredients label for the following terms:
- Mercurous chloride
Before discarding any product that may contain mercury, seal it in a plastic bag and contact your local environmental, health or solid waste agency for instructions. Some communities have special collection depots or other options for disposing of household hazardous waste.
If these ingredients are present, stop using the product. If no ingredients are listed, or if you are unable to read the label, play it safe and stop using the product. Carefully wash hands and any other parts of the body that have come in contact with the product. Contact your doctor or a medical care clinic for advice.
Signs and Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning
If you think that you have been exposed to a product with mercury, or may have mercury poisoning, check these common signs and symptoms and contact a healthcare professional.
- Chage in vision
- Change in hearing
- Memory problems
- Numbness or tingling around the mouth, hands, or feet
Tracking Illegal Products
Recent investigations by the FDA and state health officials have identified more than 35 skincare products that contain unacceptable levels of mercury. The FDA continues to add products that contain high mercury levels to their database which allows FDA field staff to refuse admission of shipments of these products.
However, with global travel and online shopping, it’s difficult to control the import and purchase of these harmful products.
To learn more about this issue and some of the experiences of other people, read the FDA’s Consumer Report on Mercury.
Sources and Related Articles:
- FDA warns consumers not to use skin products with mercury (foxnews.com)
- Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products (fda.gov)
- FDA warns of imported skin creams containing mercury – CBS News (cbsnews.com)