Most preparations of mercury are irritant to the skin and mucous membranes.

It is slowly absorbed, causing purging and salivation.

Poisoning by irritant preparations, as corrosive sublimate, causes violent vomiting and purging, and death is produced by reflex cardiac failure from irritation of the pneumogastric nerves in the stomach. Inhalations of fumes of mercury produce general paralysis.

It is excreted in the faeces, saliva, and urine.