A Woman Is ‘semi-Comatose’ After Using Tainted Anti-Wrinkle Cream—Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Safe

This is scary.

A woman in Sacramento, California, is in the hospital in a “semi-comatose” state after using a skin cream laced with methylmercury. The unidentified 47-year-old woman bought a jar of skin cream with a Pond’s Rejuveness label in a pharmacy in Mexico. The mercury found in the skin cream was “not added by Pond’s, but a third party after purchase,” according to the Sacramento County Public Health Department.

A few weeks after using the cream (which is normally used as a skin lightener, as well as a spot and wrinkle remover), the woman had trouble walking and talking, and experienced numbness in her hands and face. Her symptoms worsened over the next few weeks and she finally went to the emergency room. After arriving at the hospital, her symptoms escalated and she is no longer responding to verbal commands.

Blood tests showed the patient’s blood had 2,630 micrograms per liter of mercury in her blood, which is 500 times more than the typical amount of approximately 5 micrograms per liter. These findings led to the Sacramento County Public Health Department to issue a statement warning residents to be vigilant about their skin cream purchases.

“Sacramento County Public Health urges the community to immediately stop using similar skin creams imported from Mexico due to the risk of contamination with methylmercury,” said Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye. “Methylmercury is extremely dangerous to adults and children.”

Officials are working to test other skin creams in the area for mercury poisoning as this is the “first reported case of methylmercury poisoning of this type linked to a skin cream in the United States.”


Other skin creams found with high levels of mercury include:

  • Garnier SkinActive Aclarante Mexico, Tulare County
  • “74” from San Joaquin County Mexico
  • La Crema de Rebeca
  • Kojie San
  • Golden Pearl Beauty Crea Afghanistan

For a full listing and photos of the affected imported creams, visit the Sacramento Public Health website.

Mercury is found in many products (skin cream, seafood), but usually in very low amounts. People with prolonged exposure to mercury can develop the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Nervousness, irritability, anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors, numbness or tingling in hands, feet or around the lips

The Sacramento Health Department recommends people avoid buying products from small stores, swap meets, individuals or even on the internet. Purchase your cosmetic products through reputable businesses and make sure to check the packaging for possible tampering.

Sacramento health officials said products like Pond’s skin cream should have a protective foil covering under the lid to protect it from tampering. If the product does not have the foil seal, it could be tainted and should not be used.

Consumers can contact poison control at (800) 222-1222 with any questions or concerns.