'Blue Man' Dies Of Heart Attack, Stroke At 62: What Caused Skin Condition That Made Paul Karason Famous?

By Staff Reporter on September 25, 2013 1:20 PM EDT

"Blue Man" Paul Karason
"Blue Man" Paul Karason died from a heart attack. Learn how Karason got his famous blue skin. (Photo: Creative Commons)

"Blue Man" Paul Karason died Monday after he was admitted to Washington Hospital after suffering a heart attack. According to reports, Karason later contracted pneumonia and suffered a severe stroke. "Blue Man" Paul Karason was 62.

"Blue Man" Paul Karason had suffered a number of medical issues for many years. According to reports, Karason had suffered heart problems for many years and received a triple bypass surgery five years ago. What's more, Karason also fought a hard battle against prostate cancer.

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Paul Karason, who has been given nicknames including "Blue Man," "Smurf Man," and "Papa Smurf," became internet famous several years ago due to a bizarre condition of blue skin. Karason's condition was caused by an attempt to self-medicate a bad case of dermatitis by using a variety of silver based remedies. Unfortunately, the silver in "Blue Man" Paul Karason's body collects in the skin and will not dissolve, causing a permanent blue skin. The skin condition caused by silver is known as argyria.

Argyria caused Paul Karason to withdraw into a reclusive life with his partner Joanne Elkins, whom he had known since junior high school. Eventually, Karason became an overnight sensation when he was asked by NBC's Today Show to speak out about his condition in 2008. Despite the 15 minutes of fame, Karason's blue hue was ultimately an impediment to both his private and professional life.

"He has been too ill to work for a while," said Joanne Elkins. "He didn't like to go out in public much - only when he thought he needed to, like to go to the bank or to pick up tobacco."

"People are reluctant to hire blue people, or people that are noticeably different," Karason also explained.

The FDA has since banned the use of silver because of the blue skin symptom. Doctors now recommend penicillin or other forms of treatment of dermatitis.

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