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Silver Nitrate

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 10, 2020.


(SIL ver NYE trate)

Index Terms

  • AgNO3

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling.

Applicator sticks, topical: Silver nitrate 75% and potassium nitrate 25%

Solution, topical: 0.5% (960 mL); 10% (30 mL); 25% (30 mL); 50% (30 mL)

Pharmacologic Category

  • Antibiotic, Topical
  • Cauterizing Agent, Topical
  • Topical Skin Product, Antibacterial


Free silver ions precipitate bacterial proteins by combining with chloride in tissue forming silver chloride; coagulates cellular protein to form an eschar; silver ions or salts or colloidal silver preparations can inhibit the growth of both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. This germicidal action is attributed to the precipitation of bacterial proteins by liberated silver ions. Silver nitrate coagulates cellular protein to form an eschar, and this mode of action is the postulated mechanism for control of benign hematuria, rhinitis, and recurrent pneumothorax.


Because silver ions readily combine with protein, there is minimal GI and cutaneous absorption of the 0.5% and 1% preparations


Highest amounts of silver noted on autopsy have been in kidneys, excretion in urine is minimal

Use: Labeled Indications

Astringent, cauterization of wounds, germicidal, removal of granulation tissue, corns, and warts


Hypersensitivity to silver nitrate or any component of the formulation; not for use on broken skin, cuts, or wounds

Dosing: Adult

Antiseptic, wound cauterization: Topical:

Sticks: Apply to mucous membranes and other moist skin surfaces only on area to be treated

Topical solution: Usual: Apply a cotton applicator dipped in solution on the affected area 2-3 times/week for 2-3 weeks.

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Antiseptic, wound cauterization, degranulation of tissue (warts, corns): Note: Specific application techniques, frequency, and duration may vary with specific use (eg, warts vs burns); refer to institutional protocols.

Children and Adolescents (Ebrahimi 2007; Kwok 2012; Tompkins 1988): Topical:

Sticks: Apply to mucous membranes and other moist skin surfaces only on area to be treated

Topical solution: Apply a cotton applicator dipped in solution on the affected area 2 to 3 times/week for 2 to 3 weeks


Applicators are not for ophthalmic use. If applicator sticks are used on dry skin, dip the applicator tip in water immediately before use.


Must be stored in a dry place. Store in a tight, light-resistant container. Exposure to light causes silver to oxidize and turn brown. Dipping in water causes oxidized film to readily dissolve.

Drug Interactions

Cellulose (Oxidized Regenerated): Silver Nitrate may diminish the therapeutic effect of Cellulose (Oxidized Regenerated). Avoid combination

Adverse Reactions

The following adverse drug reactions and incidences are derived from product labeling unless otherwise specified.

Frequency not defined.

Dermatologic: Burning sensation of skin, skin discoloration, skin irritation

Hematologic & oncologic: Methemoglobinemia


Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Chemical burn: Silver nitrate is a caustic agent and inappropriate use may cause chemical burns. Skin contact time with applicator sticks should be extremely short when used in neonates or on thin delicate skin contact.

• Skin discoloration: Prolonged use may result in skin discoloration.

Other warnings/precautions:

• Appropriate use: Do not use applicator sticks on the eyes.

Patient Education

What is this drug used for?

• It is used to aid healing of skin wounds.

• It is used to get rid of warts.

• It is used to treat skin ulcers.

• It is used to treat mouth sores.

• It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

• Skin discoloration

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

• Severe skin irritation

• Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a limited summary of general information about the medicine’s uses from the patient education leaflet and is not intended to be comprehensive. This limited summary does NOT include all information available about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. For a more detailed summary of information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine, please speak with your healthcare provider and review the entire patient education leaflet.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.