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Mercurochrome™ is the brand name of merbromin, a topical antiseptic. Mercurochrome is reddish-brown and dyes the skin on contact. In 1998 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made it illegal to sell Mercurochrome because it contains mercury – mercury has been linked to kidney, heart and nervous system disorders. Products sold under the Mercurochrome label today do not contain mercury, but they do contain red dye to mimic the look of the original product. If you have used Mercurochrome and want to remove the color, it can be washed off.

Put the affected part of your body under warm, running water. Thoroughly wet the area. Put a washcloth under the running water until it is soaked through.

Rub a bar of mildly abrasive soap against the washcloth until the cloth is visibly soapy. Rub your Mercurochrome-dyed skin in circular motions with the soapy washcloth. Continue scrubbing until the affected area is visibly lighter, but not so long that it irritates your skin.

Thoroughly rinse the area with warm water – some of the dye should be gone. Wash the area with the abrasive soap, a washcloth and warm water several times per day for three or four days, or until the dye is completely removed.


Do not scrub skin that is not completely healed. Wait to remove the Mercurochrome until your skin is not broken or irritated. If you have Mercurochrome purchased before 1998, discontinue use and discard it immediately as it contains mercury.

About the Author

Rachel Spradling

Rachel Spradling is a writer and editor with over 14 years of experience writing everything from political commentary to training manuals. She graduated from California State University, Chico with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Spradling's work has appeared in "CitiZen" magazine, "Watershed" and "News and Review."