Shine On

Paul Karason: ‘Blue Man’ a.k.a. ‘Papa Smuf’ dies

Paul Karason started turning blue more than a decade ago. (YouTube screen grab)Paul Karason started turning blue more than a decade ago. (YouTube screen grab)The man who gained fame after going public in 2008 to discuss his blue skin died on Monday at age 62.

Paul Karason died in a Washington hospital after suffering a heart attack last week and later succumbing to pneumonia. Previously, he also had a severe stroke, his estranged wife Jo Anna Karason tells NBC.

Known to some as "Papa Smuf," Karason started turning blue about 15 years ago after using colloidal silver nutritional supplement to treat a bad case of dermatitis that had broken out on his face. He drank about 10 ounces a day of the home brew that he dissolved in water, and consequently ended up with argyria or silver poisoning, reports ABC.

Also see: Woman's rare condition results in a broken bone once a month

Karason had a love-hate relationship with his "Papa Smuf" nickname that he acquired for his silver hair and blue skin.

“That was a nickname he didn’t appreciate, depending on who said it,”  Jo Anna tells NBC. “If it was a kid who ran up to him saying ‘Papa Smurf,’ it would put a smile on his face. But if it was an adult, well….”

Colloidal silver was a common remedy for colds and allergies up until the 1950s. Before the discovery of penicillin, silver was used to fight infection because it has antibacterial properties. However, colloidal silver supplements are now regarded as unsafe by the medical community, according to Health Canada and Mayo Clinic.

Also see: Rare condition prevents boy from eating food

Despite the fact that argyria poisoning is caused by a buildup of silver in the body, it is not considered life-threatening, and it was not a cause of death in Karason's case.

In an interview with ABC in 2008, Karason said he fully believed the colloidal silver supplements he was ingesting were curing some of his health ailments.

"The acid reflux problem I'd been having just went away completely," he said. "I had arthritis in my shoulders so bad I couldn't pull a T-shirt off. And the next thing I knew, it was just gone."

There are other cases of individuals who have blue skin, albeit, due to a different condition. Those people have a very rare blood condition called methemoglobinemia which causes their skin to turn blue.

Watch the video below about a baby with an extremely rare condition.

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