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Potassium Permanganate for the Feet

author image Kathryn Meininger
Kathryn Meininger began writing and publishing poetry in 1967. She was co-founder and editor of the professional magazine "Footsteps" and began writing articles online in 2010. She earned a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in biology from William Paterson University.
Potassium Permanganate for the Feet
A man scratches his foot. Photo Credit: Tharakorn/iStock/Getty Images

Without your feet, you wouldn't be able to get around. Sometime during your life you may suffer with athlete's foot or a weeping skin condition affecting your feet. Potassium permanganate is harsh chemical with antiseptic properties than can be used as a soak to treat certain skin and nail problems on your feet. Use potassium permanganate only as directed to by your podiatrist or dermatologist, because it is caustic and will burn your skin if not diluted properly. Never use potassium permanganate internally; it is meant for external use only.

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Potassium Permanganate Use and Precautions

Potassium permanganate, also called Condy's crystals, is used to prepare a disinfecting skin soak. It is an odorless, dark purple powder or tablet available only by prescription and mixed with water to the proper dilution. Potassium permanganate must be prepared immediately before use because it oxidizes very quickly. It's imperative to prepare a potassium permanganate solution in the correct proportions, because a strong solution can burn your skin. Potassium permanganate often stains your skin or nails brown temporarily during use, but this discoloration fades when treatment is complete. Discontinue its use and consult your physician if potassium permanganate causes irritation of redness of your skin.


Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes patches of your skin to become scaly, itchy and inflamed. Eczema is a common skin disorder and it isn't contagious; it may be a form of skin allergy. Eczema can become infected by bacteria, causing the formation of tiny pus-filled blisters which ooze and crust over. According to Derm Net NZ, a potassium permanganate soak prepared in a 1:10,000 dilution with warm water used twice per day for two days helps eradicate bacteria and dry out and heal oozing, infected patches of eczema.

Disinfecting Wounds

Gauze soaked with potassium permanganate solution is also used to disinfect, dry and cleanse weeping wounds, ulcers, abscesses and other blistering skin conditions to prepare them for further treatment. Although there is some controversy concerning the effectiveness of long-term use of potassium permanganate for these conditions, it is still used as a short-term treatment until the underlying cause of the condition is determined. "Nursing Times" states the usual dilution for treating wounds is one 400 milligram potassium permanganate tablet dissolved in 4 liters of water. For weeping wounds, potassium permanganate soaks are often used in tandem with a corticosteroid cream.

Athlete's Foot Infection

If you walk barefoot in commonly used public areas, such as a pool, spa or gym shower, you can contract an athlete's foot infection. Athlete's foot is caused by the Tinea pedis fungus, which can infect your skin or toenails. A fungal infection in your foot causes itching between your toes with a scaly skin rash on your feet and yellowed, thickened toenails. Although there are a variety of over-the-counter antifungal medications available, Derm Net NZ says you can also use a 1 percent potassium permanganate soak under the direction of your doctor to treat an athlete's foot infection.

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