Phenol (carbolic acid) is very irritant to the skin, causes blisters and even necrosis. The same is true of mucous membranes, from which it is quickly absorbed.

It causes convulsions in many animals, followed by coma; in man, generally coma only. It is depressant to the heart and lowers the temperature, irritates the kidneys and may cause nephritis. Locally it is an anesthetic benumbing the peripheral sensory nerves. It is a very potent poison to the nervous system, paralyzing the nerve centers.

Death may occur in a few moments from "shock" or later from respiratory paralysis.

It may be partially oxidized in the system, but is mostly excreted in the urine.