Manifestations, Indications, and Medical Facts On Potassium Permanganate Intoxication

Published: 28th April 2009
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It is widespread practice that potassium permanganate is used for several medicinal applications such as foot soak for athlete's foot and a warm bath for eczema. It is also used as a disinfectant, deodorant and astringent alongside being an effective bactericide and fungicide.

Potassium permanganate has strong oxidizing properties which make it ideal for applications in treating certain medical conditions especially those which involve the skin.

This chemical is not identified as a carcinogen or a reproductive toxin but it is classified as highly toxic. In its pure form, it occurs as a deep purplish to blackish crystals or granules. It is highly hazardous in this form and proper dilution with the exact amount of water is very important.

Although reports of potassium permanganate poisoning is quite uncommon, there is still the real possibility that such an incident will happen particularly when people are not aware of the hazards, the signs and symptoms of poisoning as well as first aid measures.

How does potassium permanganate poisoning happen?

There are basically four routes for poisoning: inhalation, skin, eyes and ingestion.

Children are predominantly in danger of poisoning and this happen for two reasons: carelessness of adults and the natural tendency of children to put anything (may it be solid, liquid or in any other form) straight to their mouth. This is compounded by the fact that potassium permanganate in its pure form can be readily mistaken for sweets. When dissolved, it results to a rather attractive pink to purple liquid, something a youngster can't resist and the inevitable happens.

However, poisoning is not limited to the young ones. Adults can also suffer from poisoning especially those who are occupationally exposed to the chemical. In a medical report, one 66-year old man was orally taking a solution of 8% potassium permanganate for four weeks and neurological examinations reveal that there have been disorders in several subsystems of the central nervous system.

What are the signs and symptoms of potassium permanganate poisoning?

This chemical can be a concern especially when not prepared properly for medication purposes - it can do more harm than good. It is typically used for topical antibacterial applications and water purification. The nature and severity of the symptoms depends on the amounts and the means of exposure to the chemical.

Symptoms include a burning sensation and redness of the skin, eye and/or skin irritation, cough, shortness of breath and labored breathing, sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and may even cause shock.

Always prepare your potassium permanganate solution as advised by your doctor or per label instructions. It becomes an irritant at concentrations of 1:1,000 or higher and can be fatal when taken in its pure form and at very high concentrations.10 - 20 grams of unadulterated potassium permanganate is a sufficient amount to kill a person.

What are the other important medical information on potassium permanganate?

In the 1930's and during World War II, it was a popular abortifacient or a drug which induces abortion. Women introduce crystal or granules into the vagina and being an irritant, potassium permanganate irritates the uterus and may stimulate it to get rid of the unborn fetus.

However, it is also used as a stomach wash due to its strong oxidative ability and administered to people who suffered from poisoning such as one caused by overdose of opium. Unfortunately, the same chemical used to reduce the effects of poisoning can also be a poison itself. More so when people do not know how to prepare it and are not informed of its high toxicity.

Keep in mind that although potassium permanganate is a very important chemical with many applications not only as a treatment to different conditions, it is also highly toxic and can be poisonous if not lethal. So always practice caution when dealing with potassium permanganate.

Jo is a writer for 'ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd' (, a reputable UK based chemical firm that creates, carries and distributes a vast selection of premium chemical. If your corporation is looking for superior quality chemical product for instance Potassium Permanganate or has other industrial compound requirements for applications like chemical fusion, analytical applications and cleaning then have a look at ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd.

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