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Dermatology Online Journal

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DMSO: an aid to combat pain and pruritus

  • Author(s): Anzelc, Madison;
  • Burkhart, Craig G.
  • et al.

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a highly reactive by-product of paper production in the form of an odorless, colorless liquid that has been studied since the 1860s. Initially it was utilized as a solvent, but more recently it is being investigated for therapeutic applications. Owing to its versatility, the use of DMSO has been proposed in many different medical fields for a variety of applications, with possibly the widest use being in the field of dermatology. The clinical interest in the use of DMSO for dermatology conditions stems from this solution's efficacy as a vehicle to deliver pharmacological agents across the stratum corneum and its ability to penetrate biological membranes. Currently there is only one FDA approval for the use of DMSO, and it is not in the dermatologic field but rather for interstitial cystitis. Outside of the FDA scope of usage, DMSO is used frequently to treat osteoarthritis in humans and animals, as well as other chronic pain conditions. This suggests the possible utility of DMSO being applicable to other inflammatory conditions such as pruritus. Further research is necessary to explore the promising utilization opportunities of DMSO in dermatology.

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