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What Does Chrysiasis Mean?

Chrysiasis is a form of heavy metal-induced hyperpigmentation (increased skin pigmentation) found exclusively in persons who have received medical treatment with gold salts for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The condition affects exposed skin and eyes (ocular chrysiasis) and is characterized by a blue-gray skin coloration and yellow-brown to purple-violet discoloration of the eye.

Chrysiasis may develop decades after patients discontinue gold salt treatments, and the resulting discoloration can persist for a lifetime. The condition has become increasingly rare as medicinal gold salt use has been replaced by safer treatment options.

Safeopedia Explains Chrysiasis

Chrysiasis is caused exclusively by the medicinal use of gold salts. It is not caused by occupational contact with gold or gold salts. However, occupational contact with soluble gold salts is associated with gold dermatitis (gold allergy). This type of exposure to gold salts is associated with work involving porcelain, gold plating, gilding glass, and photography.

Chrysiasis is often compared to to argyria, hyperpigmentation due to silver exposure. However, unlike argyria, chrysiasis does not affect mucous membranes and chrysiasis hyperpigmentation is theoretically limited to only sun-exposed areas of the body. Unlike chrysiasis, argyria is associated with occupational and other non-medicinal contact with silver, and can be caused by oral consumption.

Gold is one of five heavy metals associated with hyperpigmentation. The others are arsenic, bismuth, mercury, and silver. Of the heavy metals that cause hyperpigmentation, only gold and bismuth are not associated with hyperpigmentation due to occupational exposure.

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