Good morning readers,

A slightly different post for a change, and one that could be quite interesting – if you like medical things that is.

A Facebook friend recently added a post that asked if anyone could remember the “good old” Mercurochrome. It reminded me of childhood memories of my many cuts and scrapes being applied with Mercurochrome and then patched up. And no I am not that old!

For those of you who are too young to remember Mercurochrome, here is a picture of the bottle and the general result. Obviously bottle shape/size/colour will vary…

Mercurochrome bottle

Mercurochrome on skin

As you will see, any child would love to have this beautiful pinky-orange and slightly fluorescent “fix all” applied generously to their stinging, hurting (but generally very small) cuts and scrapes – as I did.

The chemical name for Mercurochrome is “Dibromohydroxymercurifluorescein”. It is a “Merbromin” an “organomercuric disodium salt compound and a fluorescein”

As I grew older, and started to study science, I became slightly concerned with mercury as a component of Mercurochrome – and started to doubt whether it was safe to apply to human skin. When I studied medical science, it seemed obvious to me that perhaps the good old Mercurochrome of old, was perhaps better left in the rubbish bin.

Oh but I was wrong.

Having just done a little bit of research, and read a paper found at:

Research Paper on Mercurochrome use in Burns

I now understand that I was not understanding Mercury as such. As many of you would know, Mercury is a liquid, it is conductive, toxic (in many forms), and in the periodic table is listed as a transition element. It is used in many different forms, and as you would probably guess, Mercury acts differently in its different forms.

Mthyl mercury, is generally considered to be the compound responsible for mercury poisoning in humans (and other organisms); Mercurochrome however, has nil methyl mercury in it and as such the risks are different.

According to the research paper,

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed it [Mercurochrome] from the “generally recognized as safe” into the “untested” classification to effectively halt its distribution in the United States in 1998 over fears of potential mercury poisoning. It is readily available in most other countries [12].”

[I wonder if other drug manufacturers, with their newer treatments, had something to do with this removal….]

Interestingly, while Australia often follows the FDA’s approach, Mercurochrome is still available in Australia. See here at for example (link may change over time)

Having read through most of the research paper above, I found it very interesting that when compared to a silver compound (Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD) 2%) commonly used to treat burns, the Mercurochrome solution (which was first used in 1919)seemed to outperform the SSD solution significantly.

What I found interesting in this paper, was that Mercurochrome reduced the infection rate of all bacteria, compared to SSD, and particularly the pseudomonas sp. as this is quite prevalent in burns victims, and can be hard to treat. While the paper doesn’t specifically mention whether the staphylococcus aureus was resistant or not, if Mercurochrome were effective in treating resistant staph, it could be a windfall for medicine. [infections are very prevalent and significant in burns victims as the skin is destroyed, and hence has no protection against infection].

I also note that SSD are “notorious for acid-base imbalance as well as organ deposition of silver”. On the other hand, this paper showed no absorption of mercury (tested in blood serum) during or after treatment of burns with Mercurochrome.

Hmmm. Food for thought with regards to treatment with the “good old” Mercurochrome.

Considering we now have very expensive and advanced medical interventions, going back to the “good old” Mercurochrome for cuts and wounds (and serious burns – as in this research paper), might actually be advantageous in medicine.

Well that is it for now.



About Blog of Greg

I consider myself a thinker and I like to discuss everything in life with those around me. Mostly I am serious, sometimes I am funny, and occasionally I am rude. I like to wear my heart on my sleeve and say what I feel, or think! It is important to me to be honest about how I feel and why! I detest pretense, big egos and self importance. I believe that I am no more important than you, and similarly that you are no more important than me! [apparently I should reflect on this more often] This blog is a way of engaging people in different aspects of life; its goal is to present a different view of life and contribute to a broadening of our awareness. While this blog is essentially my opinion, I also understand that there are other opinions out there. Though I encourage discussion, I may “delete” comments that I find are unhelpful, argumentative, or offensive towards myself or another person. Often I write about politics – apparently that is an interest of mine – but I also like to write about other more personal things that affect us in our day to day lives. Along with this blog, I also write to politicians and newspapers; I often present a commentary on my blog about following comments or decisions. That way everyone understands what they have said – and sometimes of course how big a buffoon they are:) Please feel free to comment on my posts, as I would like to hear what you have to say. After all…. Your opinion is just as valid as mine!
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5 Responses to Mercurochrome

  1. Ginger Love says:

    Hi Greg, I am a GP and have continued to use mercurochrome on my kids (much to their dismay, no other primary school kids were turning up painted bright red) and was recommending it to patients, but often got the comment that people thought it was banned. I too had looked at the evidence and came across the same paper you did a few years ago, and have been using it to justify my position ever since. Just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone in your advocating for mercurochrome, maybe it will make a comeback someday!


    • Blog of Greg says:

      It’s funny isn’t it. Mercury “Ick”, but wait… maybe, just maybe it is OK in certain forms?
      We’ll see if any more papers come up in the future 🙂
      Thanks for commenting.


    • Blog of Greg says:

      Yes it was interesting doing the research.

      I have recently come from a medical science background, and like many people, had come to the belief that mercury was toxic (well mostly it is). However….. having now done the research on Mercurochrome, have now found that sometimes things that are toxic, are not necessarily toxic (at least in some forms anyway).

      It does show that researching something (from a scientific standpoint), can be beneficial – Hmmm, who would have thought that?

      I will read over the research again, and look at getting bringing back the old Mercurochrome into my (well used) medicine cabinet!!!


      PS: I have been reading your posts Lynette (started to reply to one, but ran out of time) – hope you are doing OK.


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