10 Unexpected Side Effects Of Camphor

Best known for its health benefits, this ingredient may have some adverse reactions, too.

Reviewed by Yvonne O’ Halloran, MND
By Tanya Choudhary

Camphor is known for its many health benefits and finds multiple uses in our households. However, are you aware of the side effects of camphor as well? Whether it is curing dry cough and congestion, or as a remedy for skin irritation and flaking, camphor and camphor oil are used in several beneficial ways through all seasons. But, there are certain things you need to keep in mind while using camphor. Also, they should be used in particular amounts to avoid any harmful complications. To help you be aware of the same, we have listed down the possible side effects of camphor for you!

Side Effects Of Camphor

1. Lip Dryness

Close-up of dry, chapped lips caused by camphor.

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Camphor may cause the lips to over dry. It is otherwise used to treat various skin inflammations, but it can lead to acute lip dryness as well. The lip skin starts peeling and flaking. It needs medical guidance to treat lip dryness caused as an allergic reaction to camphor (1).

2. Rashes

Woman experiences red rashes due to side effects of camphor.

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Camphor leads to skin redness and rashes when over-used. Red rashes develop all over the skin. Those rashes can be painful and itchy at times. It can be exceptionally tough to deal with the itching and pain caused due to such rashes at home (1).

3. Eczema

Eczema is another skin condition that can be a result of camphor side effects (2). Eczema is marked by excessive skin drying, swelling of the eye region and other soft facial tissues, pain, irritation, and flaking (1), (3). This is a severe skin condition that cannot be treated at home. It needs immediate medical attention for instantaneous and long-term relief. The one thing that you need to know is that camphor is not edible. It is strictly meant for external application. Thus, it is highly dangerous to apply camphor on broken and peeled skin. It is extremely toxic if ingested by any direct or indirect means.

4. Toxicity

Woman experiencing liver pain due to side effects camphor.

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Camphor is highly toxic for humans. Its small amounts too can lead to death in children and toxicity in adults (4). Camphor hepatotoxicity is a serious side-effect of camphor ingestion. It leads to liver (hepatic) damage and sudden death (5), (6).

5. Seizures

Camphor can cause acute chemical imbalance in the brain. This leads to seizures (4). This is a very serious side effect of camphor ingestion (1), (4), (5). This is the reason that you should be careful of using camphor in any form if you have epilepsy.

6. Respiratory Problems

Camphor can also cause respiration upset. This is an acute medical condition for children and infants suffering from respiratory disorders. Avoid the use of camphor completely on children who suffer from bronchitis or asthma. Camphor is highly dangerous for such children, as it causes chest congestion and sudden respiratory arrest (5).

7. Pregnant And Lactating Mothers

Camphor is highly dangerous for lactating mothers and pregnant ladies. It gets absorbed by the placenta and can cause neurological and physical damage to the fetus (7). It can easily get absorbed through skin cracks and reach for milk in lactating mothers. It leads to camphor hepatotoxicity in children and infants as already mentioned (5).

8. Parkinson’s Disease

Camphor is exceptionally dangerous for those with Parkinson’s disease. It may cause neuronal damage (8).

9. Scalp Issues

Close up of a woman itching her scalp due to side effects camphor.

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The application of camphor in the form of camphor oil is considered an amazing therapeutic therapy. However, it holds a prevalent danger too. Applying camphor on itchy, broken, and peeling scalp/skin is extremely risky. It can easily get absorbed through cracks on the scalp. This is one of the most dangerous camphor oil side effects, leading to further scalp and skin itchiness and camphor poisoning (9).

10. Chest Problems

A woman having burning sensation in the chest due to side effects camphor.

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Camphor can lead to discomfort or a burning sensation in the chest (10). It induces a feeling of tightness and fullness in and around the chest region. It may also lead to swelling of the affected area.

Camphor has conventionally been called a healing herb. But people have stayed ignorant of the severe side effects of camphor. It has as many side-effects as its uses. You may consider using camphor in small amounts, but its larger doses are fatal.

Do you still feel camphor is a safe herb for human use? Still have a few questions about the Camphor side effects? Share with us in the comments section!

The side effects of camphor are important to be noted. It can cause lip dryness, rashes, eczema and could be toxic to sensitive individuals. It also aggravates respiratory problems and may negatively impact the health of pregnant and lactating women. People with Parkinson’s disease should avoid using camphor as it may interfere with the associated medications. Caution is advised while using camphor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is burning camphor good for health?

Yes. Its healing properties and menthol-like smell helps alleviates stress and are good for health.

How much camphor is toxic to humans?

Camphor is a fatal toxic compound. Dosage of around 3-5 mL of 20% camphor oil or > 30 mg/Kg is toxic for humans (10).

Does camphor purify the air?

Yes. Camphor can kill germs and is an excellent way to purify the air.

Is smelling camphor addictive?

Yes. Smelling camphor is addictive and may lead to withdrawal symptoms (11).

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Camphor Poisoning: A Rare Cause of Acute Symptomatic Seizures in Children
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6182968/
  2. [Contact dermatitis by camphor present in a flushing solution]
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17555677/
  3. D-Camphor
    https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/D-Camphor
  4. Camphor poisoning—An unusual cause of seizure
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3862467/#:~:text=Symptoms%20appear%20rapidly%20after%20ingestioncamphor%20in%206%25%20of%20cases.&text=Patients%20usually%20present%20with%20severelethargy%2C%20ataxia%2C%20and%20convulsions.
  5. Camphor poisoning: An unusual cause of seizure in children
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4395957/
  6. Camphor hepatotoxicity
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10881777/
  7. Camphor—A Fumigant during the Black Death and a Coveted Fragrant Wood in Ancient Egypt and Babylon—A Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6270224/
  8. Subchronic exposure to Kafura; its neurotoxic potentials in young adult female Wistar rats
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068054/
  9. Public Knowledge awareness and attitudes towards Camphor poisoning in Sharjah United Arab Emirates
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305390634_Public_Knowledge_awareness_and_attitudes_towards_Camphor_poisoning_in_Sharjah_United_Arab_Emirates
  10. Camphor
    https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Camphor
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author
Tanya is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition. She specializes in writing articles on ingredients that benefit skin,... more

Yvonne O’ Halloran

(MND (Nutrition & Dietetics))
Yvonne is a passionate dietitian who loves to help people reclaim their health and align their morals and beliefs with... more

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