Camphor Benefits, Uses and Side Effects on Skin and Body

We use camphor for many purposes. It is a good remedy for treating cough and itching, as well for flaking. But camphor also has many side effects, of which we are not well aware.

Camphor Side Effects

What is Camphor?

Camphor used to be made by distilling the bark and wood of camphor tree earlier. But now it is made from turpentine oil. It is an important ingredient in products like Vicks VapoRub.

Benefits and Uses of Camphor:

  • Camphor products are inhaled or rubbed on the skin.
  • Camphor is also used topically to get relief from pain and for reducing itching.
  • It is good for treating fungal infection, warts, cold sores, osteoarthritis and haemorrhoids. To get relief from fungal infection, all you have to do is to mix some camphor with water and apply it on the affected area.
  • To get relief from cold symptoms, you can rub some camphor oil directly on your chest. It provides you relief from congestion of the chest.
  • Camphor can improve the appearance of your skin. It can treat acne and reduce scars on the skin.
  • It can strengthen hair roots and keep your skin soft and shiny. It is good for dealing with dandruff and hair lice as well.
  • Camphor oil can increase the blood circulation in your body.
  • Putting some camphor balls under your bed or pillow can protect you from the attacks of bed bugs.

Along with these benefits, camphor also has some side effects that you should be aware of. Below are given some serious side effects of camphor. This means that you should use it in moderate quantities only.

Side Effects of Camphor:

Absence seizures:

Camphor has the ability to cause acute chemical imbalance in the brain. This can lead to complex absence seizures. This is considered as a serious side effect of camphor ingestion. So, you should be very careful when you use camphor in any form if you suffer from epilepsy.

Chest problems:

Camphor can cause discomfort in the chest. It provides a feeling of tightness and fullness in and around your chest region. Swelling of the affected area may also take place.

Camphor & Pregnancy:

There is no specific pregnancy safety study done on applying camphor to the skin during pregnancy or breast-feeding. But some skin specialists suggest, Pregnant and lactating mothers to avoid camphor as it can be highly dangerous for them. Camphor gets absorbed by the placenta and can cause neurological and physical damage to the foetus. The absorption takes place easily through skin cracks and even reaches the milk in lactating mothers. This can lead to camphor hepatotoxicity in infants and children.

Dryness of lips:

Camphor can make your lips very dry. Camphor, as you know, is used for treating various skin inflammations. But using it can cause acute dryness of lips also. The skin on the lips starts to peel off and flake. If your lips get dry due to the use of camphor, you will need medical guidance to treat this allergic reaction.


Eczema can also result as a side effect of camphor. Eczema is characterised by excessive drying of the skin, swelling of the eye region and other soft facial tissues, irritation, flaking and pain. This is a serious condition of the skin and you cannot treat it at home on your own. You need to go to the doctor immediately to get relief. One thing that you should keep in mind is that camphor is not edible. Camphor is meant only for external application. So, it is not at all recommended that you apply it on broken and peeled skin. It can be very toxic if it gets into your body directly or indirectly.

Parkinson’s disease:

Camphor is very much dangerous for people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. It can interfere with the medicines taken by these patients and increase the levels of toxicity in their body. It can be really poisonous in such cases.

Rashes on skin:

When camphor is used too much, it can cause redness on the skin as well as rashes. Red rashes can develop all over your skin. These rashes can be painful and even itchy. It is very tough to deal with the pain and itchiness that come with the rashes. You will have to consult your doctor and take hid advice.

Respiratory problems:

Camphor can also affect your respiration. This is an acute medical condition for children and infants who have respiratory disorders. If your children suffer from bronchitis and asthma, you should completely avoid using camphor. Camphor can be highly dangerous for these children. It can lead to chest congestion and sudden respiratory arrest in them.

Skin appendages (also known as ‘skin toxicity’):

Camphor is highly toxic to humans. Even if it is taken in small amounts, it can lead to death in children and skin toxicity in adults. Camphor hepatotoxicity is a serious side effect of camphor ingestion. It can cause damage to the liver and sudden death.

Scalp issues:

Camphor is said to have therapeutic properties and application of camphor in the form of camphor oil is said to be very beneficial. However, it can also be dangerous.  If it is applied on itchy, broken and peeling scalp, it can be very risky. It gets easily absorbed through the cracks in the scalp. This is one of the most serious camphor side effects. It can cause further itching on the scalp and also to camphor poisoning.

Camphor is often called a healing herb. But when you use camphor, you should also be well aware of its severe side effects. It has as many side effects as its uses. By using camphor in small quantities, you save yourself from us side effects. Larger doses can be fatal.

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