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Carbolic Acid

solution, black and skin

CARBOLIC ACID POISONING.A form of acute poisoning caused by the ingestion of carbolic acid, either accidentally or with suicidal intent. The first symptom is a severe burning of the mucous membranes of the mouth, gullet, and stomach, accompanied by excessive pain. This is soon followed by headache, nausea and vomiting, faintness and weakness, and death in consequence of a gradual paralysis of the heart. The urine is brownish, or greenish black. In such cases it is necessary to assist the activity of the heart by administering stimulants, such as strong, black coffee, Hoffmann's anodyne, etc. As antidote, water with the white of eggs, milk, a solution of Glauber's salt, or alcoholic drinks should be given. Attempts should be made at once to dilute the acid by copious draughts of Nvat er, which should be immediately washed out or vomited. A physician should be called promptly. Carbolic acid (phenol) leaves a tell-tale white scar on the mucous membranes, and this, together with the characteristic odour, is usually sufficient to make a diagnosis.

Continued action on the skin of unnecessarily strong solutions of carbolic acid, as occurs in frequent applications of carbolic acid compresses, may eventually lead to mortification of the skin and of the parts immediately beneath it. A solution containing only 2 per cent. of the acid may cause this. The skin turns first white, and then black ; and sometimes the fingers mortify after such carbolic acid bandages. Great care is necessary, there fore, in the application of the latter, especially when the solution of carbolic acid is not fresh. It is better to avoid them entirely, and, until the physician arrives, to use less harmful remedies which show equally good results for instance, hot water, lead-water, or a 5 to 10 per cent. solution of boric acid.

A number of compounds widely used in the household and in medicine contain carbolic acid, and poisoning by them induces similar symptoms. Thus creosote, lysol, salol, resorcin, hydroquinone, and guaiacol should be included in this group.