Phenol (Oromucosal)

Phenol is an anesthetic agent applied orally to relieve discomfort, pain and irritation caused by canker sores, sore throat and sore mouth.


Phenol is an anesthetic agent commonly used to relieve pain and irritation associated with canker sores (mouth ulcers) and sore throat. It is available in suspension, spray and lozenge dosage forms, and can be purchased without a doctor's prescription. However, doctors may recommend it to patients and give specific instructions as to how it should be used.

Generally, it is recommended for no more than two consecutive days of use unless a doctor has directed otherwise. If symptoms don't improve within seven days, patients should visit their doctor for advice or an alternative treatment.

In the US, phenol is available in a variety of branded products, including:

  • Assure Sore Throat
  • Cheracol Sore Throat
  • Chloraseptic
  • Isodettes Sore Throat
  • Oralseptic
  • Osco Sore Throat
  • Painalay

Conditions Treated?

Type Of Medicine?

  • Anesthetic agent

Side Effects

There are only a few side effects associated with the oromucosal route of phenol, but the side effects are serious and require immediate medical attention. Although the rate at which these side effects occur is unknown, you should still be prepared for them, particularly when you first start using the medicine, in order that you can call your doctor when appropriate

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Worsening of pain, swelling, redness or irritation in the mouth or throat

If you notice any other side effects not listed here, consult your doctor as soon as possible. You could also report side effects to the FDA.


The amount of phenol you use will vary depending on the brand or dosage form you are using. Always follow the instructions on the packet and do not use more phenol than recommended, as doing so could cause further mouth irritation or increase the risk of side effects. If you're unsure about the correct dosage, consult a pharmacist or doctor. The following are average doses only.

For the spray dosage form for sore throat or mouth pain:

  • Adults and children over 12 years Spray 5 times to affected area every 2 hours
  • Children aged between 3 and 12 years Spray 3 times to affected area ever 2 hours

When using the spray dosage form, you should spray the affected area, leave it in place for around 15 seconds, and then spit it out. Always supervise children under 12 when they are completing this process. Do not allow the product to come into contact with eyes. It should not be inhaled.

For liquid suspension and lozenges, follow your doctor's instructions or those listed on the packaging.

Most phenol medicines should not be used for more than two consecutive days. If symptoms don't improve during this time, check with your doctor that it is safe to continue using it. If symptoms persist after 7 days, there may be a more complex issue to blame for the pain and discomfort and more advanced treatment may be necessary.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of phenol, take it as soon as you remember but only if you have pain or discomfort. There is no need to continue using phenol if you are no longer in discomfort. If you take a dose later than usual, don't take the next one at the originally planned time; wait two hours and adjust your dosing schedule as necessary. Never double doses of phenol or take doses less than two hours apart as it could increase the risk of side effects.


Although there are no major interactions associated with the use of phenol as an anesthetic agent, you should still make sure your doctor knows about all the medicines you currently take. This includes medicines that have been prescribed to you, those you have purchased over the counter, and other herbal supplements or vitamins that you are currently taking.

Phenol doesn't appear to interact with food, tobacco or alcohol, but bear in mind that smoking and some foods and alcoholic beverages could worsen irritation or soreness in the mouth and throat. Consult your doctor for more information about things you should avoid when dealing with canker sores or sore throat.


Avoid contact with eyes and inhalation

Phenol can cause severe irritation if it comes into contact with eyes. If contact with eyes occurs, rinse the eyes thoroughly and consult your doctor immediately.

Phenol should not be inhaled, so take care particularly when using spray phenol products to hold your breath while you spray the medicine. Avoid swallowing it too. If you feel you have inhaled or swallowed a significant amount of phenol, consult your doctor straight away.

Pediatric use

The safety and efficacy of phenol have not been established in children under 3 years of age. For this reason, the drug shouldn't be administered to children unless a doctor has instructed it.

It's very important to supervise children, particularly those under 12, when phenol is being administered. Ensure that it does not come into contact with the eyes, and that it is not inhaled or swallowed.


Phenol should not be used if there is an infection in the mouth. Infection often causes swelling, heat at the affected area, redness and sometimes oozing pus. If you're unsure whether you have an infection, consult your doctor before using phenol.

If you start to experience a severe sore throat, high fever, headache or vomiting while taking phenol, you may have developed an infection. Stop using phenol and consult your doctor immediately.

Large sores in mouth

Phenol is suitable for relieving pain and discomfort associated with canker sores, but if you have very large sores in the mouth you may be more likely to experience unwanted side effects when using this medicine. Consult your doctor before using phenol in this instance. It is also unsuitable for relieving pain caused by open wounds.


If you have had an allergic reaction to phenol in the past or to similar anesthetic agents, you should consult your doctor before using phenol. Make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all allergies you suffer from, particular allergies to drugs or chemicals, so that they can check whether you are likely to have a reaction any of the ingredients in phenol products.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Phenol appears to be safe for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. However, it is generally recommended that patients check with their doctor before using it. There may be alternative, natural remedies you could try first if you feel cautious about using phenol products. If you think you may have an infection, consult your doctor before using phenol sprays.


Store phenol in the container it was provided in with the lid tightly closed at all times when not in use. It should be kept at room temperature and away from direct light, moisture and heat. Do not store it in the bathroom and keep it from freezing.

Keep phenol out of reach and sight of children when not in use, even if it is the child being treated. Using too much phenol or getting phenol in the eyes can be dangerous, so this medicine should not be used by unsupervised children.

If you have leftover or expired phenol, dispose of it. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist how to do this safely. There may be a medicine take-back program offered in your local area which you can use.


Phenol is an anesthetic agent applied directly to the mouth to relieve pain, discomfort and soreness associated with sore throat, canker sores and other minor mouth problems. It should not be used on large sores, open wounds or infected areas.

Phenol is usually available in spray, liquid suspension and lozenge dosage forms. It is very important to read the directions on the packaging of a phenol product in order that you use it correctly. Always follow your doctor's instructions or those on the packing to use the correct amount of medicine, and only take it as often as directed. Taking more phenol than is recommended could cause mouth irritation and serious side effects.

Although side effects associated with phenol are rare, when they do occur they should be reported to a doctor immediately. The drug may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, rash, breathing difficulties and worsened soreness or irritation in the mouth.

Phenol is suitable for adults and children over the age of 3. Children aged between 3 and 12 years should take smaller doses than adults and children over 12. The drug is suitable for use during pregnancy, but pregnant women are advised to check with their doctor first.

Usually phenol sprays are applied to the mouth and left to work for 15 seconds before the medicine is spat out. Patients should avoid contact with eyes and should not inhale the medicine.