Trinitrophenol (picric acid) not only occupies a prominent place in the surgical field, but in its many combinations is utilized extensively in the treatment of diseases of the skin. When applied to the skin it may act in two distinct ways, according to the physical make-up of the subject.
In one class, nonsensitive to this chemical, enough may be absorbed to produce severe visceral symptoms and even death. This is especially true when the surface of the skin has been abraded. The reaction from this type is due to the absorption of toxic amounts.
Small amounts, which may be considered nontoxic when applied to the normal or abraded skin, will produce certain cutaneous, visceral and central nervous system reactions in the so-called sensitive person. It is in this class that we are particularly interested.
Owing to the wide distribution of ointment bases containing trinitrophenol, the general practitioner and
DENNIE CC, McBRIDE WL, DAVIS PE. TOXIC REACTIONS PRODUCED BY THE APPLICATION OF TRINITROPHENOL (PICRIC ACID). Arch Derm Syphilol. 1929;20(5):698–704. doi:10.1001/archderm.1929.01440050108008