Overview

Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) is a chemical. It is available as a prescription medicine and also as a dietary supplement. It can be taken by mouth, applied to the skin (used topically), or injected into the veins (used intravenously or by IV).

DMSO is used for bladderinflammation (interstitial cystitis), limb pain that usually occurs after an injury (complex regional pain syndrome), and leakage of intravenous (IV) drug from the vein into surrounding skin and tissue (extravasation). It is also used for other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

How does it work ?

DMSO helps medicines get through the skin and can affect proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water in the body.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Effective for

  • Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis). DMSO is an FDA-approved product for the treatment of this condition. Washing the bladder with DMSO improves some symptoms, such as pain.

Possibly Effective for

  • Limb pain that usually occurs after an injury (complex regional pain syndrome). Research suggests that applying DMSO 50% cream to the skin improves pain in people with this condition.
  • Leakage of intravenous (IV) drug from the vein into surrounding skin and tissue (extravasation). Some chemotherapy drugs can cause skin and tissue damage if they leak from the vein into the skin or surrounding tissue. Research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin might prevent further damage if this happens.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Hardening of skin and connective tissue (scleroderma). Most research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin does not help treat symptoms in people with a skin condition called scleroderma.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Abnormal protein buildup in the body (amyloidosis). Some early research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin, taking DMSO by mouth, or washing the bladder with DMSO might help treat amyloidosis.
  • Foot sores in people with diabetes. Early research suggests that applying DMSO to the affected area might improve the healing of foot ulcers in people with diabetes.
  • Shingles (herpes zoster). Research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin along with a drug called idoxuridine reduces lesions and swelling associated with shingles. But this effect is likely due to idoxuridine.
  • Increased pressure within the skull (intracranial hypertension). Some evidence suggests that injecting DMSO intravenously (by IV) might help with this condition.
  • Osteoarthritis. Early research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin might help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Stomach ulcers. Early research suggests that taking DMSO might be more effective than the drug cimetidine for treating ulcers in people with ulcers.
  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers). Early research suggests that applying DMSO 5% cream to the skin along with massage does not help prevent pressure ulcers in people living in nursing homes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin might help decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
  • Nerve pain caused by shingles (postherpetic neuralgia). Research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin along with a drug called idoxuridine reduces pain caused by shingles. But this effect is likely due to idoxuridine.
  • Poor blood supply to a skin flap after surgery. Early research suggests that applying DMSO to the skin might help the skin heal after surgery.
  • Painful conditions caused by overuse of tendons (tendinopathy). Early research suggests that applying DMSO 10% gel to the skin might improve pain and joint movement in people with tendon injuries.
  • Asthma.
  • Eye problems.
  • Gall stones.
  • Headaches.
  • Muscle problems.
  • Skin problems such as calluses.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of DMSO for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: There isn't enough reliable information to know if DMSO is safe or what the side effects might be.

When applied to the skin: Non-prescription DMSO is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Some non-prescription DMSO products might be "industrial grade," which is not intended for human use. These products can contain impurities that can cause health issues. To make matters worse, DMSO is easily absorbed through the skin, so it carries these impurities rapidly into the body. Some side effects of taking DMSO include skin reactions, dry skin, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, breathing problems, and allergic reactions. DMSO also causes a garlic-like taste and breath and body odor.

When applied inside the bladder: DMSO is LIKELY SAFE when applied into the bladder as a prescription medication. Don't use DMSO products that are not prescribed by a healthcare professional.

When given by IV: There isn't enough reliable information to know if DMSO is safe. It might cause side effects such as blood problems, weakness, and confusion.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: There isn't enough reliable information to know if DMSO is safe or what the side effects might be.

When applied to the skin: Non-prescription DMSO is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Some non-prescription DMSO products might be "industrial grade," which is not intended for human use. These products can contain impurities that can cause health issues. To make matters worse, DMSO is easily absorbed through the skin, so it carries these impurities rapidly into the body. Some side effects of taking DMSO include skin reactions, dry skin, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, breathing problems, and allergic reactions. DMSO also causes a garlic-like taste and breath and body odor.

When applied inside the bladder: DMSO is LIKELY SAFE when applied into the bladder as a prescription medication. Don't use DMSO products that are not prescribed by a healthcare professional.

When given by IV: There isn't enough reliable information to know if DMSO is safe. It might cause side effects such as blood problems, weakness, and confusion. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if DMSO is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diabetes: There are reports that topical use of DMSO can change how insulin works in the body. If you use insulin to treat diabetes and also use DMSO, monitor your blood sugar closely. Insulin doses may need to be adjusted.

Certain blood disorders. Injecting DMSO intravenously (by IV) might cause red blood cells to break down. This might be a problem for people with certain blood disorders. DMSO might make these conditions worse.

Kidney problems: DMSO might harm the kidneys. Kidney function tests are recommended every 6 months if you use DMSO and have a kidney condition.

Liver problems: DMSO might harm the liver. If you have liver conditions and use DMSO, be sure to get liver function tests every 6 months.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications applied to the skin, eyes, or ears (Topical drugs) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    DMSO can sometimes increase how much medicine the body absorbs. Applying DMSO along with medications you put on the skin or in the eyes or ears can increase how much medicine your body absorbs. This might increase the effects and side effects of the medicine.

  • Carboplatin (Paraplatin) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    Using DMSO to dissolve carboplatin (Paraplatin) might reduce how well carboplatin (Paraplatin) works to treat cancer.

  • Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    Using DMSO to dissolve cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) might reduce how well cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) works to treat cancer.

  • Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    Using DMSO to dissolve oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) might reduce how well oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) works to treat cancer.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    DMSO might slow blood clotting. Taking DMSO along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
    Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, cilostazol (Pletal), clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Sulindac (Clinoril) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    Using DMSO with sulindac might reduce how well sulindac works to treat pain. There is also a concern that using DMSO with sulindac can increase the risk for nerve pain.

  • Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    DMSO might increase certain chemicals in the brain, heart, and elsewhere in the body. Some medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions also affect these chemicals. Taking DMSO with these medications might increase the chance of side effects.
    Some of these medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer disease, and other conditions include pilocarpine (Pilocar and others), donepezil (Aricept), tacrine (Cognex), and others.

  • Verteporfin (Visudyne) interacts with DIMETHYLSULFOXIDE (DMSO)

    Using DMSO with verteporfin might reduce how well verteporfin works.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For limb pain that usually occurs after an injury (complex regional pain syndrome): Applying a cream containing 50% DMSO to the affected area has been used up to five times daily for 2-12 months.
  • For leakage of intravenous (IV) drug from the vein into surrounding skin and tissue (extravasation): A dressing containing 77% to 90% DMSO solution has been applied every 3-8 hours for up to 2 weeks.
INSIDE THE BLADDER:
  • For painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis): Healthcare providers drip a DMSO solution into the bladder using a tube called a catheter. The catheter is removed and the patient is asked to hold the solution for a period of time before urinating.
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.