Texas family exposed to mercury through skin cream purchased in Mexico: officials

State health officials are warning Texans about mercury poisoning after a skin cream reportedly led to a case in West Texas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services says that it recently received a report of mercury poisoning from a family who was exposed through a skin cream product purchased in Mexico.

The product was labeled as Nunn skin cream and mercury was not listed on the label as an ingredient. After using the face cream, one family member developed mild nonspecific symptoms. 

DSHS says mercury may be added to skin creams claiming to lighten the skin, treat acne, or fade freckles, blemishes, and age spots. These products are often manufactured abroad, and the mercury is usually added by a third party. 

Health officials offer the following recommendations:

  • Only purchase skin care products in original, sealed containers sold by reputable retailers
  • Do not buy skin care products at swap meets, at flea markets, or from individual online sellers
  • Do not use skin creams purchased in Mexico that are handmade, unlabeled, unsealed or from somewhere other than a major retailer
  • Do not buy or use products that may have the following words in its ingredient list- "mercury," "mercurio," "calomel," or mercury compounds such as "mercurous chloride"

If you are using a skin cream that matches any of the above, you are advised to do the following:

If there is not a facility available in your community, DSHS says you can instead tightly close the product, seal it in a zipper bag, label it "Mercury: Do Not Touch" and discard it with household garbage.

Some common symptoms of mercury poisoning to watch out for include:

  • Shaking or tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness or muscle weakness in arms and legs
  • Mood changes, anxiety, insomnia, or depression
  • Memory loss, headaches, or difficulty concentrating
  • Tingling or numbness in hands, feet or lips

Anyone who believes they may have been exposed to mercury through skin creams should contact their healthcare provider or the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222.

For more information, click here.