Domeboro Soaks for Treatment of Allergic Eczema and Contact Dermatitis

Updated on January 16, 2018
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John was a Navy hospital corpsman. He worked the general sick bay, managed a carrier O.R., and treated heat rash, eczema, and dyshidrosis.

Karl Heinrich Burow, ophthalmologist and surgeon. In 1866 he was a consultant physician to the army of Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel, and in 1870 performed in a similar role to the army of Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia.
Karl Heinrich Burow, ophthalmologist and surgeon. In 1866 he was a consultant physician to the army of Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel, and in 1870 performed in a similar role to the army of Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia. | Source


This article, which features a discussion about astringent soaks, was motivated by my history of contact allergic dermatitis and eczema. Both conditions cause itching, inflammation, blisters, and eventually, weeping and cracking of the skin. My experience with these conditions brought me to dermatologists, all of whom recommended the soaking solutions discussed in this article. The soaks brought relief and decreased my skin inflammation to the point where steroid creams could work faster to relieve the symptoms. Once I figured out what the offenders were that caused the contact dermatitis, I was able to eliminate contact with materials like liquids, soaps, detergents, and flammables (gasoline, paint thinner, etc.) I learned about effectively drying and soothing blistery reactions on my skin so that I could continue to work. This information is forwarded with the hope that the reader might find some helpful hints to ameliorating the symptoms while working on the puzzle of what causes their inflammation.

Stay Dry

Good foot care is important for good health. We all know from TV commercials the relief that a brief hot foot bath can have to aching feet. But constant exposure to moisture can hurt the feet. The skin's integrity can be compromised. Skin can soften, turn white, slough, and become susceptible to infection. The wrinkling and turning white is called maceration by healthcare practitioners. This is one reason that the military insists on carrying extra pairs of dry socks for those exposed to the elements. But sometimes an ailment can contribute to the wetness. There are times when it seems you just cannot get ahead of the process, especially when you have a problem like dyshidrosis, atopic dermatitis, or other eczematous conditions.

Brand Names and Over-the-Counter Names

Domeboro Astringent Solution Powder Packets, Pedi-Boro Soak Paks, Gordon's Boro-Packs

My Experience With Domeboro Solution

All of us have the occasional rash, but what if you have allergic dermatitis or atopic dermatitis that results in an exudate (weeping) and blisters? There is a great preparation for that and I have found it to be most welcome when, for instance, you come in contact with poison ivy.

The preparation is called Domeboro solution (an astringent solution) and is made by Bayer. It is a modified Burow's solution (aluminum acetate solution which can be purchased from some pharmacies with a doctor's prescription). Domeboro solution contains three other ingredients in addition to aluminum acetate. Aluminum acetate is what gives the astringent effect (drying of the wet irritated area). Aluminum acetate is formed when aluminum sulfate is mixed with calcium acetate and water. It comes in powder packets and tablets.

The preparation of Domeboro solution is very easy. One takes warm water (tap water is ok) and mixes the powder packet. I put the powder in a clean empty milk container and shake vigorously until completely dissolved. Then I pour the solution into a small plastic storage container, perhaps 1' by 1'. The effervescent tablets mix themselves pretty well in a basin of warm water. Both powder packets and tablets are the ultimate in convenience. This technique lends itself well to treating hands and feet.

I usually soak for 30 minutes and dry off. You can feel the astringent effect which I think takes away the burning sometimes experienced. It also dries up the blisters, many of which can be open and/or weeping. It also helps slough off dead skin. This helps prevent infection as well as the fact that the solution also has antibacterial qualities. One tablet or packet should be dissolved in every 12 oz of water used.

The usual dilution of Domboro Solution is 1: 20 which results from using 2 tablets per soak. Other dilutions are: One packet or tablet:

One packet or tablet:
1:40 Dilution, 0.16% Aluminum Acetate.
Two Packets:
1:20 Dilution, 0.32% Aluminum Acetate.
Three Packets:
1:13 Dilution, 0.48% Aluminum Acetate.

Check with your physician about dilution.

The lowest price on the Internet was $10.00 - $10.33 for twelve powder packets or tablets. Some pharmacies sell as few as one packet for around $1.50. There is also a generic Domeboro type solution offered over-the-counter.

Areas other than the feet and hands can be treated by soaking gauze in the solution and wrapping or covering (also a wet compress). This is referred to as skin occlusion in medical terminology. When the gauze dries out, it must be reapplied once it has been soaked again. Do not leave dry gauze on the affected area.

For my money, Bayer Domeboro solution is the one to purchase. Note that there is an inactive ingredient in the packet or tablet by the name of Dextrin. This ingredient is a natural fiber that acts as a binder, keeping molecules together. If the ingredients separate and move, the individual can be deprived of the medicinal benefit. Dextrin is a low molecular-weight-carbohydrate with adhesive properties and is used in many products because of its safety.

However, should you be on a restricted budget, I have discovered an alternative that has worked well for me. There is a class of compounds referred to as alum. Alum is actually a generic term for different compounds which all have astringent effects. While Domeboro is aluminum acetate, I have found that potassium aluminum sulfate (used in cooking, and what most people think of as alum) can make a suitable foot bath. I say this because I have not tried the soak on any other part of the body. Alum can be had at spice or health food stores for a very reasonable price. I found several places advertising alum for $3 - $5 a pound. The preparation I made was one heaping teaspoonful in a pint of warm water. Since mild astringent solutions are used in the relief of such minor skin irritations as those resulting from allergies, insect bites, or fungal infections. I experimented and had with satisfactory results.

You should follow your doctor's recommendation for the dilution he/she wants you to use. And as far as using alum, you need to talk it over with your physician. What I did was experimental, although, in the literature (i.e. nursing journals), I found several who claimed that alum can provide a soothing and drying soak for such conditions.

Burow's Solution

Aluminum acetate in water

Invented by Karl August Burow (1809-1874)

A New Product: Uses and Inactive Ingredients of Domeboro Cooling Gel

Domeboro Cooling Gel is a relatively new product which can relieve minor itching and inflammation of the skin and became available over-the-counter on 3/1/2016. It contains 0.5% aluminum acetate for soothing irritations caused by plant contact, contact dermatitis from jewelry usually containing nickel, and soap and detergent allergies.

The gel has no odor, is clear, and comes in a tube. It provides relief of itching with a fast cooling effect on the affected area and is handy to use, especially on the go.

I gather from the literature that for more serious dermatitis, including eczema, the choice of Domeboro for soaking the area is still recommended. Speak to your physician about use.

Inactive ingredients: Borid Avid, Ethanol, Glycerin, Hydrochloric Acid, Hypromellose, Menthol, Polysorbate 20, Propylene Glycol, Purified Water

Final Notes on Foot Soaks

Epsom salts have been used in medicine for decades, and have been used as a desiccant in some applications, but there is no reporting of magnesium sulfate being used to dry out eczema on feet. It will soften rough skin and soothe achy feet.

There are reports that Listerine foot soaking can provide a relaxing foot bath, but claims that it will help you wipe away dead skin seem to be wanting.

Here's to dry feet! Perhaps this FYI will make uncomfortable conditions much better in the future.


Medscape, 1994-2017, Drugs and Diseases, more. Be sure. Https://, Labeler: MOBERG PHARMA NORTH AMERICA LLC, 2015, data updates 2017

Healthline,, 2005-2017

Global Healing Center, Dr, Edward Group, October 5, 2015, 8 Benefits of Dextrin, October 5, 2015,

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil and Eczema

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 John R Wilsdon


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