Gentian Violet (Topical)

In its topical form, gentian violet is available without a prescription and is most commonly used in the treatment of various fungal infections which can occur on the skin and in the mouth.

Overview

Although gentian violet is not as popular as it once was as a treatment of fungal infections, it is still sometimes used in situations where antibiotics are either not available, or are not recommended for a specific patient, perhaps due to some kind of allergic reaction. The infection which is primarily treated is called thrush, and this is a whitish-looking rash which can be situated in the mouth or around other parts of the body. It happens when there is too much candida fungus in the body (yeast), and generally afflicts babies, toddlers, elderly people, and those whose immune systems have been somehow weakened.

In babies, it often appears as diaper rash, and in women it sometimes manifests itself as a vaginal yeast infection (for which there is a vaginal form of gentian violet treatment). The candida fungus exists in everyone's mouth and is normally kept in balance and under control, but there are some medical conditions which can occur that throw it out of whack and cause a significant imbalance. The most common causes of thrush are: high stress, unmanaged diabetes, dry mouth, cancer, HIV infections, and hormonal changes which occur during pregnancy.

Condition Treated

  • Diaper rash
  • Ringworm
  • Athlete's Foot
  • Thrush - in the mouth or elsewhere on the body

Type Of Medicine

  • Anti-fungal

Side Effects

In addition to the health benefits it brings, gentian violet also may impart some undesirable side effects to the user which must be carefully monitored to ensure that they don't become excessively uncomfortable. While it is extremely rare, it is possible for a patient to be allergic to gentian violet, and if you observe any of the symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should immediately seek medical attention, because the symptoms have the potential to become life-threatening if not treated. The warning signs to look out for during an allergic reaction include all of the following:

  • Extreme itchiness at locations around the body
  • Puffiness or swelling in the facial area, especially in the tongue, lips, miles, throat, and in the eyelids
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness, as though you feel you are about to faint
  • Difficulty with breathing, sometimes accompanied by a sensation of extreme tightness in the chest.

One of the most common side effects which gentian violet may impart to a patient is swelling, redness, or some kind of irritation at the site being treated. If you should notice that these side effects appear and are becoming worse, you should contact your doctor immediately. If you develop any signs of a new skin infection, such as warmth in the area being treated, extreme tenderness at the site, or oozing pus, you should immediately discontinue usage of this medication and contact your family doctor.

There is a greater likelihood of skin sores developing in locations on the body where there are skin folds, such as at the elbow, between toes, and underneath the breasts. It is therefore important that you apply only a minimal amount in these areas, and allow the medication to completely dry before putting on any clothing or footwear.

Dosage

When using topical gentian violet, it is important to apply enough of the medication to a cotton swab so that it will be sufficient to cover the affected area in the mouth, or on the skin. If you do apply it in the area of the mouth, make sure not to swallow any of the medicine, and if you are applying it inside a child's mouth, be sure to understand how to apply it so that it does not promote swallowing by the child.

If you are applying it to some area on a skin surface, do not apply any kind of airtight covering over it, e.g. some kind of plastic wrap, because it's possible that some kind of skin irritation will develop underneath the plastic wrap.

In order to be sure that the medication will completely clear up your fungal condition, continue to use it for the entire time of treatment, even if you notice an improvement in the early stages of usage. If you should miss a dosage, apply it as soon as you do remember it, although if you are coming up on the next regularly scheduled treatment application, it's better to simply skip the missed dosage. It is never advisable to double up on dosages simply to get back on schedule with your treatment program.

While the dosing of this medicine will be different from patient to patient, a standard or typical treatment schedule is listed below for reference purposes. It should not be considered an appropriate application for your own circumstances – instructions for your personal application will be printed on the label of your container, or will be provided for you by your family doctor.

The actual dosage being used for treatment will depend on a number of factors, primarily the strength of the medication itself, the intervals between application, and your body's tolerance to the medicine.

A typical dosage would be as follows:

  • For topical solution applied to either adult or child patients treating a fungal infection – apply enough medicine to a cotton swab, so that it can treat the entire affected area with a single application. This should be applied to the area being treated two or three times each day, for a period lasting up to three days. If significant improvement is not demonstrated during this three-day period, you should consult with your family doctor about a potential alternative treatment.

Interactions

Since this is a topical medication, there is a much lower likelihood of any kind of drug interactions between gentian violet and other medications. However, it's still a good idea for you to prepare a list of all of the vitamins, herbal supplements, over-the-counter drugs, and prescription medications which you are currently using, as well as the dosages of each of these. Your doctor can review this list and make a determination on whether or not medications you are using now may have an effect on gentian violet, or if the reverse situation might occur.

While using gentian violet, you should not start using any other kind of medication without advising your doctor beforehand, so that possible interactions can be avoided. In addition to potential adverse side effects being imparted to a user who is experiencing interactions between drugs, it's also possible for certain drugs to have their effectiveness diminished by the presence of other medications, so this is a secondary consideration about interactions that you should be aware of.

With regard to existing medical conditions that should be avoided when using gentian violet, the most prominent one would be having any kind of skin sores near the area to be treated with this medicine. If you have any kind of symptoms for colds or flu that might impact the area of the mouth, it is not advisable to treat thrush symptoms with topical gentian violet at this time. In such situations, you should consult your doctor about the best time to orally treat mouth sores with gentian violet.

Warnings

There are fewer precautions to be aware of with topical gentian violet than with most other medications since it is not orally ingested. However, there are a few things you should be aware of when using this medicine, so as to avoid unpleasant medical conditions or other practical considerations. For instance, this medicine will cause any materials that it comes into contact with to be stained, and that is likely to make them unusable in the future.

Do not use this medication on open sores on the skin, or when you have any other kind of medical issues with your mouth, while thrush sores are being treated. Make sure to tell your doctor if you think you may be allergic to gentian violet or to any other kinds of dyes.

This product does contain inactive ingredients which may trigger other allergies that you have, for instance to pets, foods, preservatives, or fabrics, so it's advisable to be alert to the symptoms of an allergic reaction when taking gentian violet.

If you have any kind of metabolic disease, it is highly advisable to consult with your doctor before applying gentian violet topically.

If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, make sure to discuss this with your doctor prior to using gentian violet. While it is not known with certainty whether gentian violet can be passed through breastmilk, it is considered unlikely. You should still consult with your doctor about the advisability of breast-feeding if you are being treated with gentian violet.

Storage

This medication should be stored out of the reach of children, in a location that does not go through temperature extremes or excessive humidity. All unused or expired gentian violet should be disposed of according to proper methods recommended by your doctor.

Summary

Topical gentian violet can be used to treat a number of fungal conditions on the skin or in the mouth, such as athlete's foot, diaper rash, ringworm, and thrush sores in the mouth. Since it is a kind of dye, it will stain anything it comes in contact with (including your skin), so caution must be used during application. While it is used less commonly now that antibiotics are generally available, gentian violet is still an effective bacteria killer and can have legitimate medical uses.