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The Health Effects of Potassium Chloride Exposure to Skin

author image Rachel Nall
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
The Health Effects of Potassium Chloride Exposure to Skin
Potassium chloride is a potential irritant to the skin. Photo Credit Grafimania/iStock/Getty Images


Potassium chloride, or KCL, is a chemical compound that can be used in a variety of applications, including medications. In its natural state, potassium chloride appears as white crystals or powder, according to Mallinckrodt Chemicals. Because it is classified as a hazardous material, caution should be taken when handling it. A knowledge of potentially harmful side effects can help you to identify how to properly handle potassium chloride. In addition to dangers to the skin, avoid inhaling potassium chloride or getting it in your eyes.


Skin that comes in contact with potassium chloride may result in irritation that causes redness or tingling of the skin, according to Drugs.com. Your skin may feel slightly prickly, as if something is on your skin, yet not visible. If your skin does come into direct contact with potassium chloride, Mallinckrodt Chemicals recommends washing your skin with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. This should help to alleviate skin irritation. If the irritation does not subside with time or seems to be getting worse, seek a physician’s treatment.


A rash is a more severe skin reaction than skin irritation. Risk of a rash may be increased in certain settings, particularly when potassium chloride mixes with another solution. Potassium chloride is incompatible with some compounds, and may cause a reaction when coming into contact with water, acids and other compounds, according to Science Lab. If your skin comes in contact with both water and potassium chloride, it may cause a reaction severe enough to cause a rash to develop. A rash is characterized by uneven bumps on the skin. For this reason, you should use soap along with water to remove any potassium chloride on your skin.

Respiratory Tract Irritation

Your respiratory tract is made up of muscular skin strong enough to support the foods and drinks you consume. When you inhale potassium chloride, the chemical can irritate the skin in your respiratory tract, according to Science Lab. This can cause irritation of the skin of your gastrointestinal tract, which results in nausea, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. If you do become nauseated due to the potassium chloride, your body’s reaction of vomiting can help to prevent acute potassium poisoning, according to Science Lab.

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