Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an aromatic organic compound. It is a white crystalline solid that is volatile. The molecule consists of a phenyl group (−C6H5) bonded to a hydroxyl group (−OH). It is mildly acidic and requires careful handling due to its propensity to cause chemical burns.
The main use of phenol is as a feedstock for phenolic resins, bisphenol A and caprolactam (an intermediate in the production of nylon-6).
It is used in the manufacture of many products including insulation materials, adhesives, lacquers, paint, rubber, ink, dyes, illuminating gases, perfumes, soaps and toys.
Also used in embalming and research laboratories.
It is a product of the decomposition of organic materials, liquid manure, and the atmospheric degradation of benzene.
It is found in some commercial disinfectants, antiseptics, lotions and ointments.
Phenol is active against a wide range of microorganisms, and there are some medical and pharmaceutical applications including topical anesthetic and ear drops, sclerosing agent.
It is also used in the treatment of ingrown nails in the "nail matrix phenolization method".
Another medical application of phenol is its use as a neurolytic agent, applied in order to relieve spasms and chronic pain.
It is used in dermatology for chemical face peeling.