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Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2006.
Potassium permanganate is an oxidising agent with disinfectant, deodorising and astringent properties. Its chemical formula is KMnO4. It is sometimes called by its common name, Condy's crystals.
In its raw state, potassium permanganate is an odourless dark purple or almost black crystal or granular powder.
A potassium permanganate solution is made by dissolving crystals or powder in water aiming for a 1-in-10,000 solution. Potassium permanganate tablets can also be used. If using 400 mg tablets, add one to each 4 L of water. The tablets should be dissolved in hot water before pouring into the bath.
The potassium permanganate solution should be a pink colour.
Potassium permanganate is useful in the following dermatological conditions:
Potassium permanganate baths are effective for the treatment of infected eczema when there are blisters, pus and/or oozing. Twice daily baths for two days help to dry out the weeping sores and soothe the eczema.
The potassium permanganate solution may be used as wet soaks to blistering wounds such as ulcers and abscesses. Strips of cotton or gauze should be soaked in the solution and wrapped around the affected area for 20–30 minutes. The astringent action of potassium permanganate helps to dry out the blister and prepare the wound for other treatment.
A 1% solution (1 in 100) is used as a direct application to treat fungal infections such as athlete's foot.
Potassium permanganate crystals and concentrated solutions are caustic and can burn the skin. Even fairly dilute solutions can irritate skin and repeated use may cause burns. If redness or irritation continues, notify your doctor. When preparing solutions, make sure that the crystals or tablets are fully dissolved in water before using.
Potassium permanganate soaks are not suitable for dry skin conditions.
Note that potassium permanganate may leave a brown stain on skin and nails as well as the bath or vessel holding the solution. Use nail varnish or by apply soft paraffin to fingernails and toenails before treatment.
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