Side Effects from Phenol


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Phenol peels are the strongest variety of chemical peel available; the strength of the chemicals involved in the peel requires that a surgeon administer the treatment. As the most penetrative of the three strengths of chemical peel (the others are medium depth and superficial peels), phenol peels involve the greatest risk.  Although side effects are rare they are possible.

Potential side effects

Deep peels such as phenol peels incur a far greater risk of a side effect occurring than a superficial peel. Unfortunately phenol has an increased risk of scarring and has an unwelcome property of being toxic. This toxicity, it’s corrosive nature means that if it came into contact with the eyes, if the peel was improperly applied, horrific damage could be caused. 

Crucially, a repeat phenol peel should never be performed until at least 6 years after the original peel. If the advice is not followed then dermatitis or third degree chemical burns can result due to the caustic nature of a phenol peel.

Although highly uncommon heart disturbances have occurred within individuals as a direct result of being treated with a phenol chemical peel. The rhythm of the heart has been disrupted, resulting in a heart attack. Most cases have involved an individual who has a family history of heart disease (this should have been highlighted during medical checks). It can also prove to be dangerous to clients with kidney or liver problems.

Don’t be overly worried

These stories merely act to emphasise that it is vital to thoroughly ensure that the practitioner who is treating you with a chemical peel is fully trained. There is no indication that phenol peels lead to cancer in humans. Warning signs that indicate improper qualifications may be indicated through not thoroughly consulting you over the chemical peel treatment. Remember that if you do not feel happy about having a chemical peel, you are not obliged to continue.


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