FDA Warns Against Mercury-Containing Skin Care


WASHINGTON—FDA released a warning to consumers, urging them to steer clear of skin creams, beauty, and antiseptic soaps or lotions that might contain mercury. Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator, FDA, Office of Regulatory Affairs, said the products are marketed as skin lighteners and anti-aging treatments that remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles; and acne treatments geared toward adolescents. Products with this toxic metal have been found in at least seven states.

“If you have a product that matches these descriptions, stop using it immediately," Coody said.

The products are manufactured abroad and sold illegally in the United States—often in shops in Latino, Asian, African or Middle Eastern neighborhoods and online. Consumers may also have bought them in another country and brought them back to the United States for personal use.

“Even though these products are promoted as cosmetics, they also may be unapproved new drugs under the law," said Linda Katz, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. FDA does not allow mercury in drugs or in cosmetics, except under very specific conditions, which these products do not meet.

“Sellers and distributors should not market these illegal products and may be subject to enforcement action, which could include seizure of the products and other legal sanctions," said attorney Brad Pace, J.D., of the Heath Fraud and Consumer Outreach Branch within FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Mercury can cause damage to the nervous system, kidneys and potentially interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children, according to FDA.