At low concentrations silver kills single cells organisms, such as bacteria and yeasts, but is harmless to multi-celled organisms like humans. Colloidal silver was commonly used to treat skin infections such as those that occur during a severe episode of eczema, until the discovery of penicillin in 1928. The US Army still carry silver dressings for use in the battlefield but elsewhere colloidal silver is used as a alternative therapy.
Healthy skin forms a protective barrier against wind and heat, bacteria, yeasts and other infections. Your skin normally contains fats and oils that keep the skin cells plump, joined together and provides waterproofing again the elements. During a flare-up of eczema your skin loses these fats and oils so that the skin dries out and no longer protects against infection or irritant substances.
The causes of eczema are not fully understood but most sufferers have certain triggers that can provoke a flare-up. According to the United Kingdom's National Eczema Society, common triggers include exposure to certain animals, house dust mites, pollens, abrasive clothing, heat, soap or detergents and stress.
Colloidal silver is created by suspending microscopic particles of silver in de-mineralized water in varying concentrations. The products for sale vary but range from 10ppm or 10 parts of silver in 1 million parts of water.
Colloidal silver is sold in many formulations including soaps, creams, sprays and oral solutions. Many claims have been made for the benefits of colloidal silver to treat eczema but no scientific evidence exists to support this. In 1999 the US Food and Drugs Administration ruled that it did not consider colloidal silver to be safe or effective for treating any disease or condition.
Most health care professionals approve the use of emollient creams containing fat and water to keep the skin moist, soft and protected. If you use a cream containing colloidal silver you may also prevent infection; many suppliers claim that it also relieves inflammation.
According to the SilverMedicine website, colloidal silver should be applied to the area via a dressing and kept moist by repeated applications to maintain its effectiveness. Alternatively you could use a spray containing colloidal silver and apply it several times daily.
Soaps containing colloidal silver dries the skin, removes fats and oils and are not advised.
Colloidal silver comes in oral solutions. Suppliers vary in their recommendations but generally the advice is to take 50 to 60 mL per day of 10ppm colloidal silver during an eczema flare-up and 20 to 30 mL daily as a maintenance dose. You should hold the dose in your mouth as long as possible before swallowing. This is because the silver is absorbed more efficiently by the lining of the mouth than the small intestine.
Oral colloidal silver can disrupt your friendly gut bacteria so taking a probiotic or live yogurt during treatment may help prevent this.
Consult you health care provider before taking colloidal silver. Silver accumulates in your skin and organs causing a permanent condition called argyria, making you appear gray in color. At low doses silver is non-toxic, but according to The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, at higher doses silver may cause seizures, gastric upset, fatigue, headaches or skin irritation. Colloidal silver may interfere with your ability to absorb some drugs such as oxytetracycline, thyroxine and penicillin.
Kata Logan graduated as a veterinarian from Glasgow University in 1987. She has worked in general practice since then and written pet-care articles for her local Oxfordshire press since 1993. Raised in the hotel business, Logan also has more than 40 years of catering experience, providing a great resource for her articles on food, diet and health.