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Update Date 08/05/2020 . 5 mins read
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Know the basics

What is glycerin used for?

Glycerin is an organic compound that is frequently used as an ingredient or excipient in a wide variety of medications. It is available as a clear, colorless liquid that is somewhat viscous and has moisturizing properties.. 

Glycerin is taken by mouth for weight loss, improving exercise performance, helping the body replace water lost during diarrhea and vomiting, and reducing pressure inside the eye in people with glaucoma. Athletes also use glycerin to keep from becoming dehydrated.

Healthcare providers sometimes give glycerin intravenously (by IV) to reduce pressure inside the brain in various conditions including stroke, meningitis, encephalitis, Reye’s syndrome, pseudotumor cerebri, central nervous system (CNS) trauma, and CNS tumors; for reducing brain volume for neurosurgical procedures; and for treating fainting on standing due to poor blood flow to the brain (postural syncope).

Some people apply glycerin to the skin as a moisturizer.

Eye doctors sometimes put a solution that contains glycerin in the eye to reduce fluid in the cornea before an eye exam.

How should I take glycerin?

Topical: Some products need to be shaken before use. Check the label to see if you should shake the bottle well before using. Apply to the affected areas of the skin as needed or as directed on the label or by your doctor. How often you apply the medication will depend on the product and your skin condition. To treat dry hands, you may need to use the product every time you wash your hands, applying it throughout the day.

If you are using glycerin to help treat diaper rash, clean the diaper area well before use and allow the area to dry before applying the product.

If you are using glycerin to help treat radiation skin burns, check with radiation personnel to see if your brand can be applied before radiation therapy.

Suppositories: Wash your hands before and after using Glycerin suppositories.

If the suppository is too soft to use, put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or run cold water over it. Then remove the wrapper and moisten the suppository with cool water. Lie down on your side. Insert the pointed end of the suppository into the rectum, then use your finger to push it in completely.

If you miss a dose of Glycerin suppositories, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses in the same day, unless directed otherwise by your doctor.

How do I store glycerin?

Glycerin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store glycerin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of glycerin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush glycerin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using glycerin?

Before using this medication, ell your doctor if:

  • you are allergic to Glycerin;
  • you have a blockage in your digestive system;
  • you have undiagnosed abdominal pain.

Is it safe to take glycerin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of glycerin?

Side effects include:

Oral: Headache, nausea, vomiting; diarrhoea, thirst, dizziness, mental confusion, severe dehydration.

Intravenous: Haemolysis, haemoglobinuria and acute renal failure. Local irritation e.g. rectal discomfort and burning sensation.

Potentially Fatal: Cardiac arrhythmias; circulatory overload, pulmonary oedema and CHF.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with glycerin?

Glycerin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

  • Arsenic Trioxide, Licorice.

Does food or alcohol interact with glycerin?

Glycerin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with glycerin?

Glycerin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus—Use of Glycerin may increase the chance of dehydration (loss of too much body water).
  • Confused mental states;
  • Heart disease;
  • Kidney disease—Glycerin may make these conditions worse.

Understand the Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Glycerin for an adult?

Adjunct in acute glaucoma

Adult: Initially, 1-1.8 g/kg orally as a 50% solution.

Short-term reduction of vitreous volume and intraocular pressure before and after ophthalmic surgery

Adult: Initially, 1-1.8 g/kg orally as a 50% solution.


Adult: 2250 mg suppository as needed.

What is the dose of Glycerin for a child?


Child: 1375 mg suppository as needed

How is glycerin available?

Glycerin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Ophthalmic, Solution: 1%

Suppositories, Liquid: 5.6g/5.5 mL (7.5 mL)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of glycerin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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