By Cat, Aug 2019 (image, right, form Amazon (1B))

A bottle of this has always been in my medicine cabinet, going back to my time as an infant and toddler in the 1950s. For every mosquito or spider bite, Mom opened the bottle and the aroma of camphor sneaked out. Using a cotton swab, she put a tiny bit on the bite and instantly, the pain and itch were gone, for several hours.

It’s hard to find it these days, as newer, synthetic topical pain relievers and antiseptics have taken its place, but it’s still available on Amazon (1).

How does it work its magic?

See also: 1. Natural Healing Remedies and Personal Care Menu; 2.

What is Campho-Phenique?

Rosemary in bloom (Seattle)

Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons.


  • For topical application only.
  • Keep out of reach of small children.
  • Do not use in or near the eyes. If contact occurs, rinse eyes thoroughly with water and obtain medical attention.

This is not something you make at home. It’s chemical name is “Camphorated phenol (camphor 10.8% and phenol 4.7%).” (2a)

  • Camphor is a natural substance from the wood of the camphor laurel evergreen tree (in Asia), and to a lesser extend in the leaves of rosemary. It provides relief from topical pain and itching. (4a)
  • Phenols, in general, are also natural substances found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables; however the simplest phenol – carbolic acid or phenol – was first extracted from coal tar. Today it is produced from petroleum. In the 1800s it was used as an antiseptic, and provides the antiseptic action of Campho-Phenique; in the 1900s, it was used as a soap, known as carbolic soap (4b).

Campho-Phenique also contains the inactive ingredients: eucalyptus oil and light mineral oil (2b). I note, however, that eucalyptus oil (essential oil) is not “inactive,” as it also has analgesic properties (for pain relief), and is well known for its ability to fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections, and to help clear the respiratory tract of built up mucus. (5)

It numbs the skin temporarily.  Campho-Phenique is used for sunburns, cold sores, eczema, skin irritations, insect bites, rashes and minor cuts and scrapes. It should not be used genitally, anally or in the eyes, mouth, nose or ears, notes HealthCentral. It should not be used on children younger than 2 years of age unless prescribed by a doctor. If the skin condition has not improved in seven days or improved but worsened again, see a healthcare provider and stop using Campho-Phenique topical anesthetic until a determination is made by the doctor.” (3)

Use of Campho-Phenique

The following are from the label of Campho-Phenique liquid form; see image (2b), below.

Use for:

  • Temporary relief of pain and itching associated with insect bites, sunburn, scrapes, minor burns, minor cuts and cold sores.
  • First aid to help protect against infection in minor cuts, scrapes and burns.

Warning: Do not use over large areas, nor with a bandage.

How to use the liquid form

The following is from (2a) but can also be found on the product label (see image, below).


  • adults and children 2 years and over:
  • clean the affected area
  • apply a small amount of this product on the area 1 to 3 times daily
  • do not bandage
  • children under 2 years: ask a doctor”

“Other information:

  • store at room temperature. Avoid excessive heat above 40°C (104°F).
  • close cap tightly after use.”

Campho-Phenique Gel for Cold Sores

I’ve not used this, as I rarely get a cold sore. It dries the cold sore and stops pain on contact, if used in the early stage of a cold sore before the scab forms.

It’s inactive ingredients are: colloidal silicon dioxide, eucalyptus oil, glycerine, light mineral oil.

Directions for adults and children 2 years of age or older (product label (1C)):

  1. Clean the infected area;
  2. Apply a small amount to the cold sore or fever blister, 1 – 3 times daily;
  3. Do not bandage.

For children under 2-years of age, consult a doctor. (product label (1C))

Label of liquid form:

(from (2b))

Campho-Phenique label


  1. Amazon:
    1. Search:
    2. 0.75 oz bottle of original Campho-Phenique Antiseptic Liquid for Itch and Pain Relief: ASIN B005XD5NOM and B0043TXLC8
    3. 0.23 ox Campho-Phenique for Cold Sores: ASIN B000GCND4W
    2. image:
  4. Wikipedia:
  5. Dr. Axe:

About Cat

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