We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Blue Ointment?

By Barbara Bean-Mellinger
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Blue ointment is the name for a skin treatment that was used in the early part of the 20th century. Comprised of a mixture of mercurial ointment and petroleum or lard in a ratio of 2:1, respectively, blue ointment was often used to kill body lice, cure syphilis, and soothe troublesome skin irritations that did not respond to other poultices or salves. Mercury was known to have antiseptic properties and was effective in these treatments. The preparation was applied to the skin, however, so there was the danger that excess mercury could be absorbed through the skin with detrimental effects. One of its benefits, though, was that it did not cause stomach or abdominal upset, because it did not go through the digestive tract.

Blue ointment was applied to small areas of the skin at bedtime, rubbed so as to be absorbed into the skin, and sometimes wrapped with a cloth to increase exposure to the ointment. The skin was washed the next morning to remove any remaining ointment, and the procedure was repeated the next night on another small area of skin. As newer, less dangerous and more reliable treatments were developed to treat body lice and antibiotics were developed that cured syphilis, blue ointment fell out of favor.

A derivative of the ointment is still sometimes used in veterinary medicine to soothe skin irritation, particularly in horses. If used in this way, the animal must be watched for signs of mercury poisoning, including excess salivation, swollen gums, bad breath and loss of appetite. This is particularly true if the ointment is applied to an area of the skin that the horse could lick and, therefore, absorb into its system.

Other blue ointments currently in use are Blue Star Ointment® and Icy Blue Ointment. Blue Star Ointment is said to relieve the pain and itching associated with ringworm, insect bites and other skin irritations. Its active ingredient is camphor, with inactive ingredients of benzoic acid, lanolin oil, methyl salicylate, mineral oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum and salicylic acid.

Icy Blue Ointment contains the active ingredient menthol to transmit a cooling feeling to the skin — reminiscent of an ice pack — and relieve the sensation of pain. Its inactive ingredients are alcohol, carbomer, polysorbate 60, triethanolamine, and water. Neither preparation includes mercury as an ingredient in any form.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By elizabeth23 — On May 08, 2011

I can't imagine using any sort of ointment, antibiotic, lotion, or other medication made with lard. The idea sort of makes me ill.

By helene55 — On May 07, 2011

A friend of mine about ten years ago used to use some sort of blue gel on her joints to soothe fibromyalgia. I don't know if it was one of the brands mentioned here, she called it her "blue stuff". I think it worked, to some extent, though it didn't totally stop her pain.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.