DMSO (Diamethyl Sulfoxide)

DMSO (RIMSO) is a chemical used for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. The Food and Drug Administration approve it for this purpose. The DMSO is instilled directly into the bladder through a catheter passed through the urethra. The medication is held in the bladder for 15-30 minutes, then you empty your bladder normally.

The reason that DMSO improves the symptoms of interstitial cystitis is not known. DMSO is known to have the following characteristics:

  • Increases blood flow to the area
  • Carries small molecules with it (possibly into the bladder tissue such as hydrocortisone)
  • Relieves pain
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Prevents scar tissue
  • Stimulates healing of damaged cells

None known



  • Lens (eye) changes have been noted in animals chronically given high doses of DMSO. Periodic eye exams including SLIT LAMP EXAM may be recommended if treatment would be continued over a long period of time.
  • Periodic checks of kidney, liver, and bone marrow function are recommended, although no specific toxicity to these organs is known.
  • A few people are hypersensitive to DMSO, secondary to histamine release.
  • Safety and effectiveness in children is not known.

How DMSO is used
DMSO is instilled into your bladder weekly for six weeks. Some patients continue with weekly instillations for longer periods; others stop for a period of time and others go to a maintenance schedule with instillations every two to four weeks. Your schedule will be determined by your response and individual needs. Often, several instillations are required before any significant benefit is noted.

How will this drug be administered?
The drug comes in liquid form and will be instilled into the bladder through a catheter. The medication will remain in the bladder for at least 15 minutes and then you will be asked to urinate to remove the medication from the bladder.

What are the side effects from this medication?
The common side effect is a garlic-like taste and may be noted within a few minutes after instillation of the DMSO. The taste may last several hours. An odor on the breath and skin may be present and remain for up to 72 hours.

Some patients may experience discomfort on administration of the drug. Usually this becomes less prominent with repeated administration. You may occasionally experience frequency and urgency of urination that will last for several days after administration of the medication.

Rarely, cataracts or difficulty with vision have been observed in patients treated with DMSO in large doses for prolonged periods. If you have eye problems, you may need an eye examination prior to treatment.

What other precautions do I need to know about?
Approximately every six months you will need a blood biochemical screening to check your liver and kidney function, and a complete blood count (CBC).

Some patients have severe discomfort with treatment. Usually, this decreases with each treatment. Medication for pain or to decrease bladder spasm may be taken if this is a problem for you.

DMSO will cause you to have a "garlicky breath" and skin odor over the first 12 hours, although in some patients it may linger for one or two days.