Potassium chloride, or KCL, is a chemical compound that can be used in a variety of applications, including medications 12. In its natural state, potassium chloride appears as white crystals or powder, according to Mallinckrodt Chemicals 12. 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 12. In addition to dangers to the skin, avoid inhaling potassium chloride or getting it in your eyes 12.
Skin that comes in contact with potassium chloride may result in irritation that causes redness or tingling of the skin, according to Drugs.com 12. 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 12. 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.
Skin Problems Following Chlorine Contact
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 12. 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 12. 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 12. 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 12.
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 12. 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 12.
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- Science Lab: Potassium Chloride
- Drugs.com: Potassium Chloride Side Effects
- Aburto, et. al. Effect of increased potassium intake on cardiovascular risk factors and disease: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2013 Apr 3;346:f1378. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f1378.
- Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, et al. A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group. N Engl J Med. 1997;336(16):1117-1124.
- Ferraro PM, et. al. Dietary Protein and Potassium, Diet–Dependent Net Acid Load, and Risk of Incident Kidney Stones. CJASN. October 2016, 11 (10) 1834-1844; DOI: 10.2215/CJN.01520216
- Granchi, D, et. al. Potassium Citrate Supplementation Decreases the Biochemical Markers of Bone Loss in a Group of Osteopenic Women: The Results of a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study. Nutrients. 2018 Sep 12;10(9). pii: E1293. DOI: 10.3390/nu10091293.
- Linus Pauling Institute. Potassium.
- Macdonald, HM, et. al. Effect of potassium citrate supplementation or increased fruit and vegetable intake on bone metabolism in healthy postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;88(2):465-74.
- National Institute of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium.
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.