Health Guide

Gentian violet

What is it?

Gentian Violet is a purple dye derived from coal tar that is used on the skin as an antifungal and antibacterial agent.

Other names for Gentian Violet include: Crystal Violet, Hexamethylpararosaniline Chloride, Mythyrosailine Chloride, Methylrosanilinium Chloride, Methylvioletti, Pyoctaninum Caeruleum, and Viola Crystallina.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have porphyria
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much Gentian Violet you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Gentian Violet. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.


  • Before taking Gentian Violet, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not eat or drink Gentian Violet due to possible cancer-causing effects (4)
  • If used vaginally, do not have sex during treatment (1)
  • Do not use if you have porphyria (4)
  • Do not put on eyes or open skin cuts (5,6)
  • Gentian violet will stain the skin and the stain may sometimes be permanent (stay forever) (10)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Stomach pain, upset stomach, diarrhea, and throwing up (4)
  • Mouth ulcers or blisters have appeared in children when Gentian Violet was used for thrush (8,9,10)
  • Rashes and ulcers on the skin have been reported with the use of Gentian violet on skin and open sores. (4,10)
  • Skin staining which can be forever (9,10)


1. Product Information: Genapax (R), gentian violet. Key Pharmaceuticals, Kenilworth, NJ; 1990.

2. Hagerman RD, Cramer LG, Bartok WR et al: Topical medications on demarbraded tattoos. Arch Dermatol 1970; 102:438-439.

3. Hernndez-Perez E: A simple treatment for plantar warts. Arch Dermatol 1974; 109:571.

4. Reynolds JEF (ed): Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia (electronic version). Micromedex Inc, Englewood, CO; 1998.

5. Grant WM: Toxicology of the Eye, 3rd ed. Charls C Thomas, Springfield, IL; 1986.

6. Parker WT & Binder PS: Gentian violet keratoconjunctivitis. AM J Ophthalmol 1979; 87:340-343.

7. Leung AKC: Gentian Violet in the treatment of oral candidiasis. Pediatr Infect Dis J 1988; 7:304-305.

8. Horsefiel P, Logan FA & Newey JA et al: Oral irritation with gentian violet. Br Med J 1976; 2:528.

9. John RW: Necrosis of oral mucosa after local application of crystal violet. Br Med J 1968; 1:157.

10. Gilman AG, Rall TW, Nies AS et al (eds): Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 8th ed. Pergamon Press Inc, Elmsford, NY; 1990.

11. Mobacken H: Gentian violet and wound repair. J Am Ac Ad Dermatol 1986;15:1303.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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