Phenol is an antiseptic and disinfectant. It is active against a wide range of micro-organisms including some fungi and viruses, but is only slowly effective against spores. Phenol has been used to disinfect skin and to relieve itching. Phenol is also used as an oral analgesic or anesthetic in products such as Chloraseptic to treat pharyngitis. Additionally, phenol and its related compounds are used in surgical ingrown toenail treatment, a process termed phenolization. Research indicates that parental exposure to phenol and its related compounds are positively associated with spontaneous abortion. During the second world war, phenol injections were used as a means of execution by the Nazis. Phenol is a toxic compound whose vapours are corrosive to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.
Phenol is primarily indicated for minor sore throat pain, sore mouth, minor mouth irritation, and pain associated with canker sores. Additionally, phenol is indicated in the treatment of focal spasticity.
Mechanism of action
Phenol is a potent proteolytic agent. Concentrations in the 5% to 7% range dissolve tissue on contact via proteolysis. In high concentrations when injected next to a nerve, phenol produces a chemical neurolysis which is nonselective across nerve fiber size and most prominent on its outer aspect. Local anesthetic effects occur within 5-10 minutes.