Skin Creams, Soaps and Lotions Marketed as Skin Lighteners and Anti-aging Treatments: May Contain the Toxic Metal, Mercury
Audience: Consumers, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine
Issue: FDA notified healthcare professionals and warned consumers not to use skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps, or lotions that might contain mercury. 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.
Background: The products are manufactured abroad and sold illegally in the United States—often in shops in Latino, Asian, African or Middle Eastern neighborhoods and online. Consumers may also have bought them in another country and brought them back to the U.S. for personal use. Investigations in the past few years by FDA and state health officials have turned up more than 35 products that contain unacceptable levels of mercury.
Recommendations: Consumers are advised to check the label of any skin lightening, anti-aging or other skin product used. If there is no label or no ingredients are listed, do not use the product. If “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury,” are listed on the label, stop using the product immediately. If you suspect you have been using a product with mercury, stop using it immediately. Thoroughly wash hands and any other parts of the body that have come in contact with the product. Contact a health care professional or a medical care clinic for advice.
Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
- Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
- Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
[03/09/2012 - News Release - Minnesota Department of Health]
[03/13/2012 - Consumer Update - FDA ]