Easy At-Home Remedies May Actually Harm Your Skin


While cleansers and other at-home face masks can do wonders for acne and facial scarring, home remedies for skin cancer should be avoided at all costs.

While cleansers and other at-home facemasks can do wonders for acne and facial scarring, home remedies for skin cancer should be avoided at all costs.

New research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that the majority of patients who used the homemade remedy black salve did so without first consulting their dermatologists, and were left with harmful results.

The black salve is a family of substances containing zinc chloride and sanguinarine, acidic ingredients which can severely damage the skin.

Mark J. Eliason, MD, FAAD, University of Utah, said in a news release, “There is a misperception that black salve ‘draws the cancer out,’ when, in fact, it just indiscriminately damages anything it touches.”

Many patients apply black salve to the skin cancer lesions with the intention of removing them. Instead, black salve can ruin the top most layer of skin, while leaving the cancer in the deeper layers, allowing the cancer to continue to grow.

The University of Utah researchers interviewed 340 adult patients in primary care and dermatology clinics who used the black salve. The surveys indicated that 74% of the users were actually unaware of the salve’s potential side effects: infection, extensive scarring, and disfigurement, before even applying the mixture.

Interestingly, according Sarah D. Cipriano, MD, MPH, manufactures and distributors of black salve market their products as “easy and natural” treatments, but there is no legitimate research supporting its safety and efficacy.

The FDA does not regulate these products; instead, black salve is included on its list of “187 Fake Cancer ‘Cures’ Consumers Should Avoid.”

The study participants shared that most learned about the home remedy from a family member or friend.

Also, many opted to use the at-home salve rather than medical treatment from a physician primarily to avoid surgery. As such, only 30% of the interviewees consulted a dermatologist prior to using black salve.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions from a board-certified dermatologist is crucial, because if its not, the effect could be worse.

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