Help! Silver Nitrate stain from cauterization!

  1. I wasn't sure where to post this. My son had his septum cauterized yesterday for frequent nosebleeds. He ENT warned us that it could stain his skin, but his nose continued to run slightly, and as time as gone on, the stain became darker.

    I've done a Google search and can't find much--plus I'm no chemist and don't feel good about some of these methods I've found. I'm assuming it will wear off, but when? The poor kid looks like he's been snorting charcoal. I'm so mad that I didn't think to ask for him to put petrolium jelly around his nare before we left the office .

    Anyone have exprience w/ this?
    Last edit by Joe V on May 22, '18
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    About kellyo

    Joined: Oct '04; Posts: 351; Likes: 7
    Specialty: CV Surgery Step-down


  3. by   arelius
    Try emailing a chemistry professor at one of the colleges nearby (or far away, I guess it doesn't matter either way) and they probably have experience with chemical stains and how to remove them.
  4. by   blue280
    I used to work in a chemical factory and would get siver nitrate stains on my fingers and hands frequently. They usually wore off in a few days
  5. by   HappyNurse2005
    look up argyria

    argyria is silver nitrate overdose/poisoning which can lead to permanent blue discoloration. though, i dont think you could get that much from a cauterization. hope not, at least.
  6. by   mshultz
    In my job as a lab tech, I get the occasional silver nitrate spot on my hand. The stain is permanent, but only lasts for a few days before new skin replaces the stained skin. The best course of action is to leave the stain alone. Chemical treatments and abrasion introduce added risks. Since silver nitrate reacts with organic compounds, Vaseline to protect the skin might have done more harm than good.
  7. by   sharann
    Didn't they put a moustache dressing on him? Especially since they knew in advance it would stain. You can always call the ENT, they had better know the answer!
  8. by   Birdwatcher1
    As a show dog breeder I use silver nitrate sticks to cauterize puppy dewclaws after removal (the use of silver nitrate is common practice in veterinary medicine--and the ENT on our med/surg unit uses it for human nosebleeds too)...the silver nitrate 'rusts' on human hands but disappears within a few days. After having 'spotted hands' once or twice a year for >20 yrs my feeling is it 'wears' off human skin without a problem .

  9. by   kellyo
    Thanks everyone for your replies. Tonight, in the tub, most of it actually rubbed off (along with his skin--it's a bit tender and pink now) with a good wipe of a washcloth and Dove soap! It didn't stop the bleed, though--the ENT said he may have to do another round. At least I'll know to tell my son to keep the tissue under his nose 'till it stops running!
  10. by   Fuzzy
    We use silver nitrate a lot! I work in a veterinary hospital. Before the area has a change to darken, wash the exposed area in a salt (at least 5%) water solution. This does something change the chemical reaction so that it doesn't stain the skin. This needs to be done before the stain appears as it doesn't get rid of the stain. It prevents the stain from happening.