Mersol, Merthiolate
Classifications: antiinfective, topical; antiseptic, topical;
Therapeutic:topical antiseptic

Pregnancy Category: C


1:1000 solution, tincture, spray


Topical organic mercurial with sustained bacteriostatic and fungistatic activity. Ineffective against spore-forming organisms.

Therapeutic Effect

Utilized as a topical antiseptic because it is both a bacteriostatic and fungistatic agent.


First-aid treatment of contaminated wounds, in antisepsis of intact skin, before surgery, and in pustular dermatosis; as antifungal agent in athlete's foot for wound irrigations. Ophthalmic preparation is used to treat conjunctivitis and corneal ulcer and for prevention of infection following removal of foreign bodies. Used as preservative in most solutions sold for cleaning, wetting, soaking, and storage of contact lenses; also used as preservative for biologic and pharmaceutical products.


History of sensitivity to thio or mercurial compounds; prolonged use; pregnancy (category C).

Cautious Use


Route & Dosage

Adult: Topical 1:1000 solution, apply locally 1–3 times/d


  • Clean before applying antiseptic for first-aid treatment.
  • Do not apply bandage or other occlusive dressing until tincture application has completely dried in order to prevent skin irritation.
  • Store in tightly covered, light-resistant containers. Avoid exposure to excessive heat.

Adverse Effects (≥1%)

Skin: Itching erythema, papular or vesicular eruptions. Body as a Whole: Mercury poisoning with prolonged use (metallic taste, salivation, stomatitis, lethargy, peripheral neuropathy).


Absorption: May have mercury absorption with prolonged use over large areas.

Nursing Implications

Assessment & Drug Effects

  • Be aware that Aqueous Merthiolate contains thimerosal and borate (0.14%). Both are toxic if absorbed systemically.

Common adverse effects in italic, life-threatening effects underlined; generic names in bold; classifications in SMALL CAPS; Canadian drug name; Prototype drug

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