PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Doctors are warning about a home remedy for skin cancer that can be dangerous — a paste called “black salve.”
Doctors say there’s a misperception that it “draws the cancer out,” when, in fact, it can damage skin. Black salve is an unproven skin treatment that has generated lots of buzz.
It’s used for things like getting rid of unsightly moles and blemishes, but the big concern is that it’s being touted to treat skin cancer.
“The skin will die and the tumor will fall out,” says one user of black salve.
“I waited four or five days and basically the cancer died and it fell out, it literally came out,” adds another user.
That’s what has doctors alarmed.
“When you’re using something like black salve, you’re getting this part of the skin cancer off but you’re actually not removing any of that. And that’s the issue is that you think is superficial but there is this entire portion that is still here and growing,” says Dr. Kavita Mariwalla.
The FDA has listed the black salve, which is typically sold online in a paste form, on its list of illegally sold cancer cures.
“You can’t really control the burn that happens from black salve,” explains Dr. Mariwalla.
Additionally, because it can often be very corrosive leading to irritation and scarring that may not be reversible, the American Academy of Dermatology has issued a warning to patients recommending that they should not use black salve for any skin condition, especially cancer.
“You can use a lot of DIY for other things, but for skin cancers don’t do it yourself at home,” urges Dr. Mariwalla.
Doctors say patients should never try to treat skin cancer with any kind of home remedy.
Experts add that when found early enough and correctly treated skin cancer is very curable.