Cinfacrom poisoning; Mercurochrome poisoning; Stellachrome poisoning
Merbromin is a germ-killing (antiseptic) liquid. Merbromin poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance. This can be by accident or on purpose.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Merbromin is a combination of mercury and bromine. It is harmful if it is swallowed.
Merbromin is found in some antiseptics. A common brand name is Mercurochrome, which contains mercury. Compounds like this that contain mercury have not been legally sold in the United States since 1998.
Below are symptoms of merbromin poisoning in different parts of the body.
BLADDER AND KIDNEYS
- Decreased urine output (may stop completely)
- Kidney damage
EYES, EARS, NOSE, MOUTH, AND THROAT
- Excessive saliva
- Inflammation of the gums
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Mouth sores
- Swelling in the throat (can be severe and completely close the throat)
- Swollen salivary glands
STOMACH AND INTESTINES
- Diarrhea (bloody)
- Stomach pain (severe)
HEART AND BLOOD
- Breathing difficulty (severe)
- Memory problems
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Speech difficulties
- Mood or personality changes
Get medical help right away. Do not make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (ingredients and strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Treatment may include:
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Medicine called an antidote to reverse the effect of the poison
- Activated charcoal
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
- Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs, and breathing machine (ventilator)
How well someone does depends on how much merbromin was swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.
If the person takes an antidote to reverse the poison within 1 week, recovery is usually likely. If the poisoning has occurred over a long period of time, some mental and nervous system problems may be permanent.
Aronson JK. Mercury and mercurial salts. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:844-852.
Theobald JL, Mycyk MB. Iron and heavy metals. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 151.
Last reviewed on: 11/13/2021
Reviewed by: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.