What is black salve?

Black salve is a paste product incorrectly advertised as a treatment for skin cancer with absolutely no evidence backing up any claims of effectiveness. The paste typically contains zinc chloride, chaparral and bloodroot extract, which contains an ammonium salt that attacks and destroys living tissue. This damage causes a black scar which falls off over time, theoretically “removing” the skin cancer or mole. This type of product, called an escharotic, was first recorded in use back in 1858. Guess what else was used in medicine back in those days? Cocaine and arsenic.


Can I use black salve for skin cancer treatment?

Can you use black salve for skin cancer treatment? The short answer is no. The long answer is absolutely, definitely, 100% no. In no way is black salve proven to reduce or cure skin cancers. The only thing it is proven to do is to damage living tissue.


Out of sight, out of mind is unfortunately not true when it comes to skin cancer. Melanoma, for example, can metastasize (spread) far beyond the original site if left untreated. All black salve is likely to do is hide any potential problems.


What are the dangers of black salve?

Black salve corrodes living tissue. Using it is never going to end well. Commonly, you may end up with a scar and skin damage. In the worst case, you could hinder the treatment of the skin cancer you were trying to remedy and even lose whole parts of your face or body. In one horrifying case in 1984, an Idaho woman applied black salve to a bump on her nose as suggested by an unlicensed naturopath and had to have her nose reconstructed after it completely eroded. In 2012 Australia’s own Therapeutic Goods Administration warned people to stay away from black salve after three Aussies were found to have major skin damage from the product.


The scariest side effect of using black salve is that it can actually inhibit the proper diagnosis and treatment of potential skin cancers, even when biopsied and tested. As one of our very own SunDoctors, Dr. Jonny Levy from Bentleigh in Victoria, explained, ‘I am operating on a lady today with a melanoma who had used black salve. It didn’t get rid of the melanoma but very nearly completely obscured it, so that diagnosis visually would have been impossible.


Also, diagnosis via the pathology lab becomes impossible on occasion due to the scarring caused by the black salve on the specimen sent. What I sent in was half scarred by black salve. Only by luck there was some melanoma left over to diagnose.’


So, for those asking, ”What is black salve for cancer?” the answer is “don’t even think about it!”


How is skin cancer treated?

Depending on the type, location and severity of the skin cancer, modern and proven treatment might include surgery, freezing, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or scraping, or a combination of these. It’s absolutely imperative that identification, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers are managed by a medical professional such as the doctors at SunDoctors clinics around Australia. Remember, if detected early up to 95% of skin cancers are treatable. To make your appointment and have any concerning spots checked out, free call SunDoctors Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46) today.