Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dermatology Online Journal

Dermatology Online Journal bannerUC Davis

Localized cutaneous argyria: Report of two patients and literature review


BackgroundLocalized cutaneous argyria is a rare skin condition caused by direct contact with silver or silver particles. It presents as asymptomatic gray or blue-gray macules that appear similar to blue nevi. Histologic features include brown-colored or black-colored silver granules in the basement membrane and dermis, most commonly surrounding eccrine glands, elastic fibers, and collagen fibrils. The condition is most frequently observed in individuals who are regularly exposed to small silver particles, such as silversmiths and welders. However, localized cutaneous argyria has also been associated with acupuncture needles, silver earrings, and topical medications containing silver nitrate. Although the condition is benign, patients who are concerned about the cosmetic features of localized cutaneous argyria may benefit from laser therapy.

PurposeWe describe the clinical and pathologic findings of two women who developed localized cutaneous argyria. We also review the characteristics of other patients with localized cutaneous argyria and summarize the differential diagnosis and treatment options for this condition.

Materials and methodsThe features of two women with localized cutaneous argyria are presented. Using PubMed, the following terms were searched and relevant citations assessed: acquired localized argyria, acupuncture, argyria, argyrosis, colloidal silver, cutaneous argyria, and localized cutaneous argyria. In addition, the literature on localized cutaneous argyria is reviewed.

ResultsTwo women presented with small, asymptomatic blue-gray macules appearing at sites directly adjacent to ear piercings. A punch biopsy was performed on one woman. Microscopic examination revealed a yellowish-brown colored granular material found adjacent to elastic fibers. Based on correlation of the clinical presentation and histopathologic findings, a diagnosis of localized cutaneous argyria was established. The second woman did not undergo a biopsy. However, the clinical presentation was highly suggestive of localized cutaneous argyria. Both women were reassured of the benign nature of the condition and agreed to return for clinical follow-up if they observed any changes in the appearance of the lesions.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View