DMSO gel is a mixture of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and a gel carrier. This product was originally designed for use as a solvent, but it also has demonstrated medical applications. In some nations, DMSO gel is fully approved and legal for various medical applications, while in other regions, its use is restricted. In nations with restrictions, companies sometimes sell purified forms labeled “for solvent use only” to get around restrictions on the sale of this product for medical purposes.
Dimethylsulfoxide is a byproduct of wood pulp processing. It has a number of uses including as an industrial solvent, as a catalyst for some chemical reactions, and in genetics research. In medicine, DMSO is sometimes used as a cryoprotectant with frozen organs, tissue, and similar products. DMSO is highly penetrating, so it will fully penetrate the tissue being frozen to provide complete protection. Other compounds can be suspended in it, using the DMSO as a vehicle to fully penetrate a sample.
In several regions of the world, DMSO gel is used for relief of pain and inflammation. It is sold in mixtures with a lower percentage of DMSO than industrial solvents to avoid skin irritation and to reduce the risk of side effects such as visual disturbances, dizziness, and headaches. The drug is applied topically, and will carry through the skin. Some products also use the DMSO gel as a carrier for other chemical compounds, taking advantage of how readily it penetrates the skin to introduce other compounds through absorption.
This product has an odor which is sometimes described as “fishy” or “garlic-like,” and people who use DMSO gel often notice that they acquire the odor while using the product, and sometimes experience the taste of fish or garlic when neither food is present. DMSO gels can also cause skin irritation, even when they are diluted for medical use, and the DMSO gel can act as a carrier for chemicals in the environment which could be dangerous to absorb through the skin, which is something to be aware of.
People who use DMSO products should be aware that the gel can damage clothing and eat through some types of gloves. It's important to apply it to clean, dry skin and to keep the container in a location out of the reach of children and pets. DMSO gel should be used under the supervision of a doctor to confirm that the product is safe and appropriate for use.