When taken as a prescription medication, dimethyl sulfoxide is "likely safe" for patients to use, according to WebMD. Some non-prescription dimethyl sulfoxide products could contain the industrial-grade version of the product, which may not be safe for human consumption due to its impurities.
Side effects of dimethyl sulfoxide include a garlic taste in the mouth and bladder discomfort, notes Drugs.com. The garlic taste could last several hours, and a garlic-like odor may come from the skin for up to 72 hours after treatment. Discomfort in the bladder usually lessens with each successive dosage. Severe side effects include an allergic reaction, eye pain, blurring or vision changes.
Dimethyl sulfoxide treats bladder inflammation related to interstitial cystitis, says WebMD. Washing the bladder with this substance improves pain caused by this condition. Dimethyl sulfoxide may help treat complex regional pain syndrome, skin damage due to chemotherapy and shingles by applying solutions of the chemical to the skin. When combined with idoxuridine, dimethyl sulfoxide has been shown to reduce swelling and lesions on the skin that occur with shingles. This drug also treats inflammatory bowel disease for people who have had the disease for a long time. Dimethyl sulfoxide may prevent skin damage due to chemotherapy drugs that leak from the intravenous contraption.
Dimethyl sulfoxide can be combined with other drugs to help substances penetrate the skin because the organic liquid seeps easily through biological membranes, according Pub Chem's Open Chemistry Database. The substance can protect living tissue during cryopreservation at extremely low temperatures.