bismuth hydroxide is the inorganic compound with the formula Bi(OH)3. It is a white solid, insoluble in water but soluble in acids. It is used as a radiopacifying agent in X-ray films, and also has some applications in medicine as an antacid and in the treatment of peptic ulcers. It is an important ingredient in some cosmetics, particularly in face powders and blushes due to its white color and opaqueness. It is a strong skin and eye irritant, and may cause respiratory tract irritation. It is highly toxic when inhaled and ingested, and may cause kidney damage. Bismuth is one of the heaviest metals on Earth and is found mainly in its native form in nature. It is also extracted from its minerals, notably in bismuthinite and bismite, and as a byproduct of lead, copper, silver, tin, molybdenum, and tungsten extraction.
Bismuth subnitrate, a water-soluble form of bismuth, is indicated for over-the-counter use as an antacid and to relieve symptoms associated with duodenal ulcers. It is also indicated in a short-term treatment regimen with omeprazole and clarithromycin to improve the rate of eradication of Helicobacter pylori, a cause of peptic ulcers.
Bismuth subnitrate is absorbed systematically in the gastrointestinal tract with a peak plasma concentration occurring within 1 hour. It is excreted primarily in the urine, although some of it is excreted in the faeces as well. Bismuth is generally cleared from the body within 2 to 4 days.