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19th Feb 2024

The bizarre case of the ‘real life Papa Smurf’ who turned himself blue


Hey there, Mr Blue

An American man was left permanently blue after attempting to treat his medical conditions.

Paul Karason, who hailed from Washington, first made headlines back in 2008 after his skin turned blue while he was trying to treat minor issues such as acid reflux and dermatitis.

However, Karason’s consumption of silver chloride colloid both internally and externally to treat these issues led to his skin turning a silvery blue colour.

Colloidal silver was used historically as a folk remedy due to its antibacterial properties, but it fell out of use when penicillin was invented. It is still sold in some parts of the world for cosmetic use, but is not designed for use as medicine.

Karason explained to the Today Show that he only realised the dramatic change when a friend came to see him: “A friend that hadn’t seen me for a while came by and asked me what I’d done to myself.”

His wife explained that he was given the nickname ‘Papa Smurf’, even though it wasn’t always one that he welcomed.

“That was a nickname he didn’t appreciate, depending on who said it. 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…”

Prior to his skin turning blue in 1993, Karason was pale and had freckles.

Following the change in the colour of his skin, Karason became a recluse, and moved from Oregon to the California Central Valley community of Madera.

Then, in 2012, Karason became homeless after losing his home while dealing with a heart condition.

Heartbreakingly, Karason passed away in 2013 at the age of 62.

His death was reportedly unrelated to his argyria, which is the condition that caused his blue skin.