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October 1960

Dermal Changes Following Application of Chemical Cauterants to Aging Skin: Superficial Chemosurgery

Arch Dermatol. 1960;82(4):578-585. doi:10.1001/archderm.1960.01580040096017

Liquid phenol, despite its toxicity when ingested or absorbed in sufficient quantity from broken or even intact skin,1-4 can be safely used on the latter provided that the area of application is limited. This is a report on the results following its topical application during the past three years to senile, actinically damaged, and/or wrinkled skin.

Phenol is a protoplasmic poison, coagulating protoplasm3,4 and producing an immediate white appearance when applied to the skin, followed by erythema in an hour or more, with subsequent formation of a crust. This crust usually separates in a week or so, during which epidermal regeneration occurs. Serous exudation and considerable edema may occur for a few days. Persistent crusting and fissuring may occur, especially on the neck. The erythema associated with the newly regenerated epidermis gradually fades over a period of several weeks.

The liquid phenol is applied on a cotton applicator