Acne is commonest in teenagers but may also occur throughout adult life and, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, nearly 17 million people in the U.S. suffer from the condition. It is frequently treated with antibiotics and, since silver is known to kill single-celled organisms such as bacteria, many claims have been made for the beneficial effect of colloidal silver on acne. However, none of the claims has been proved scientifically.
Acne is a skin condition which is not fully understood but occurs when the follicles or pores of your skin become blocked by sebum. Sebum is an oil produced by sebaceous glands at the base of your follicles, and is necessary to keep your skin and hair healthy. During an outbreak of acne, the sides of a follicle stick together, reducing the flow of sebum to the surface.
If the follicle is open at the surface, the trapped sebum reacts with oxygen in the air and becomes dark brown, forming a blackhead. If the follicle is closed, then bacteria grow in the sebum, forming a whitehead. As pressure increases the walls of the follicle may collapse leading to a large pus-filled cyst.
Many factors have been linked to the development of acne. These include hormone rises during puberty, greasy hair and the use of oil-based cosmetics. If your parents were sufferers, then you probably will be too.
Irritation of the skin when cleansing or the pressure from chin-straps or head-wear can increase the incidence of acne. Also, if you are in an area of high humidity or pollution, you are more likely to be a sufferer.
Diet is often considered to be a major factor, but scientific research has yet to find a true link between food and acne.
Colloidal silver is made by suspending microscopic particles of silver in purified water. The concentration of silver varies depending on the manufacturer, but most are 10 parts silver to 1 million parts of water.
Silver will kill single-celled organisms such as bacteria or yeast and was used in World War I to treat trench fever and other infections. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 meant that silver became less commonly used and it is now no longer regarded as an effective antimicrobial. No silver-containing products are listed in the major drug guides used by medical professions in the U.S. or the UK.
Colloidal silver is available in a variety of formulations. Many suppliers recommend using an oral solution during an outbreak, as the infecting bacteria are sealed under the surface of the skin. The soaps, sprays and face lotions are intended for use in a daily cleansing routine to reduce the severity and incidence of outbreaks.
For colloidal silver solutions with a concentration of 10 parts per million, most suppliers recommend taking 50 ml to 60 ml of solution daily for treatment, and then 20 ml to 30 ml per day as a maintenance dose. Silver taken orally is absorbed in the small intestine and can be taken by vegetarians and vegans.
At low levels, silver is nontoxic, but it accumulates in the eyes, skin and organs, causing a condition called argyria, which literally makes you turn grey. As the level of silver rises in your body, signs of toxicity may occur. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration issued a ruling that all over-the-counter drug products containing colloidal silver ingredients or silver salts were not generally recognized as safe or effective. The ruling also stated that no health claims should be made for silver products, but that they could still be sold as "dietary supplements."
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.