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Dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, is a substance derived from wood pulp. DMSO was historically used as an industrial solvent. However, in recent years it has been used to treat muscle injuries and arthritis. Although research studies have not validated the treatment's effectiveness, people using DMSO report a beneficial result. DMSO been shown to produce some short-term side effects, and should only be used after consulting with a physician. DMSO is available as a cream, gel and liquid in various strengths.

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Test for skin irritation by placing a small amount of DMSO on a small patch of your skin. If you are overly sensitive to DMSO, your skin will burn. If burning occurs, wash the affected area with water and pat it dry.

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Clean the area of skin that you wish to use the DMSO on, to remove any lotions or substances that may react with the DMSO. If using the DMSO on your hands, wash under your nails thoroughly.

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Use your hands to apply the DMSO directly to your skin. If you prefer not to use your hands, you can use a piece of cloth or a small brush. Apply the DMSO to an area larger than where the pain is. If using it for a painful knee, apply it to an area running from six inches above, to six inches below your knee. If your hand hurts, apply it all the way to the middle of your forearm. Allow the DMSO to dry for 20 minutes, before putting on clothes or touching anything.

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Apply the DMSO to the painful area every two hours, for six to eight hours after an injury occurs. Then apply the DMSO every four to six hours for the next five days. For chronic conditions, apply the DMSO twice daily.

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Wash your hands thoroughly after you apply the DMSO, unless you are applying it to your hands.


Consult with your physician before using DMSO.

About the Author

Fiona Todd

Fiona Todd has been a writer since 2001. With work appearing in a range of media outlets, including "The Seattle Times" and "Static Magazine," she enjoys sharing her expertise in real estate, pets, gardening and travel. Todd holds an associate degree in communications from the University of Phoenix, and a real estate brokers license in Washington State.