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…
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:
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 .”
[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 http://www.yourdiscountchemist.com.au/gold-cross-mercurochrome-solution-2-50ml.html 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.