A number of studies have investigated the use of silver-containing dressings on skin ulcers and wounds. Many of these have found that the silver particles exerted antibacterial properties that aid the treatment of diabetic ulcers, skin grafts, bed sores, necrotizing fasciitis, and other serious skin injuries.
As long as colloidal silver is used topically and in small amounts, it doesn’t pose a great risk of argyria.
It’s thought that to develop argyria, you would have had to ingest silver compounds over a long period of time. However, the exact amounts and time frame that would put you at risk aren’t known (16).
Ultimately, the human body has no need for silver. It is not an essential mineral and serves no biological function of any sort.
Companies that claim that colloidal silver is a miracle cure for diseases such as cancer and HIV are doing so without any clinical proof. There are many other safe options for staying healthy, preventing disease, and getting better from illness.
The real risks of ingesting nanoparticles, which may be present in colloidal silver products, are also unknown.
While silver toxicity is rare, silver can accumulate in the body over months and years. This can lead to severe disfigurement and potentially harmful deposits in the liver, spleen, kidney, muscle, and brain, according to research from Imperial College in London.
Silver isn’t a vitamin or mineral that naturally occurs in the body. You don’t need to make sure you’re getting an adequate dose of silver or do anything to make up for not being exposed to it.
Applying colloidal silver to your skin is considered less risky than ingesting it. However, if the solution contains very small nanoparticles, you may absorb these through your skin (17).
That is not to say that silver offers no health benefits. When used topically (on the skin), colloidal silver can aid in healing and prevent infection.
A dosing reference chart created by the EPA suggests that your daily silver exposure — topical, oral, or environmental — shouldn’t exceed 5 micrograms per every kilogram you weigh.
Ingesting colloidal silver puts you at risk of developing a condition called argyria. Ingesting silver nanoparticles, which may be present in colloidal silver solutions, is also considered to be risky.
This suggests that the short-term, topical use of silver-containing products have their place in treatment.
Colloidal silver’s most common commercial form is as a liquid tincture. Most health food stores carry it. It can also be bought as a powder to apply to your skin. Some people even make their own colloidal silver at home, using a special machine.
However, given that these particles may more easily pass into your cells and possibly cross the blood-brain barrier, they are considered a probable health risk (6).
A 2018 study from Iran concluded that a topical ointment containing silver nanoparticles was able to reduce skin inflammation during healing and speed the regrowth of skin compared to people provided a placebo.
Colloidal silver is a classic example of anecdotal reports that differ drastically from scientific research. Always remember that oral colloidal silver isn’t a product that’s regulated by the FDA.
What’s more, if you use it frequently on an open wound, you may experience localized argyria due to a buildup of silver in the surrounding tissue (18).
People who take colloidal silver may not experience any immediate side effects. The concerns are related more to the long-term consequences of colloidal silver use as particles gradually accumulate and embed themselves in organs and tissues, most especially the skin.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that most people are already exposed to silver every day in their environment.
You are most at risk of developing argyria if you’re taking a silver-containing food supplement or work in a job that exposes you to large amounts of silver.