Don’t do it, experts say.
This can not only cause scarring and infection, but can also mask skin cancer and make it difficult for physicians to identify and treat in a timely manner.
“There are several reasons why patients avoid trying to treat moles at home. And this is certainly the most worrying … that cancer patients often confuse skin cancer with benign moles,” he said. Chad Prater, certified dermatologist in Baton Rouge, LA. “We often see patients who have skin cancer. It has been diagnosed and their initial process was to try to treat it at home or with physical means, or sometimes with these over-the-counter products.”
This can obscure the diagnosis of very serious skin cancers, such as melanomasaid the Prater.
The FDA released a council earlier this month warning that there is no approved or over-the-counter medication for moles, skin scars or seborrheic keratoses. Products sold for this purpose – such as ointments, gels, sticks and liquids – may contain high concentrations of salicylic acid and other harmful ingredients, the FDA warned.
The agency has received reports of people who have received permanent skin injuries, notes in a news release.
The simple claim that it is “organic”, “natural”, “herbal” or “homeopathic” does not make it safe, according to the FDA.
or biopsy can provide information on how deep and wide the pigmented mole diagnosed as melanoma is, Prater said. This size helps to guide the treatment.
“We judge how bad melanoma is by how deep it goes. And we really need this initial biopsy to know the true depth so that we can choose the most appropriate method of treatment, whether it’s surgery or a lymph node check, or followed by immunotherapy“Prater said.
Products that contain acids can be corrosive to the skin and are not usually used in dermatological practices, where there are so many other treatment options, said Dr. Cameron Roxard, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
“I’ve seen non-healing ulcers that took months to heal and then permanent scars or pigment changes in the skin,” Roxard said. “People do not have medical expertise to distinguish benign skin scars and moles from other dangerous things. And they can put these things on things that really need to be shown to a doctor.
Treatment or removal depends on the diagnosis.
For simple skin markings, the doctor may numb and cut the skin, ending up with anti-bleeding medications, all in a sterile way to minimize the risk of infection and scarring. Seborrheic keratosis can be removed with a blade, frozen or cauterized if small. Sometimes a laser is even used.
“We have many treatments at our disposal that are obviously safe and medically tested over time,” Roxard said. “We just have better modalities than acids.”
Whether to remove something benign depends on the individual.
A certified dermatologist can make the right diagnosis and can advise someone on the right method to remove the lesion if the person does not like the appearance or worries.
“Often insurance companies pay for it anyway if something grows or something gets annoyed. These are covered issues, “Roxard said.
Any new growth that lasts more than three or four weeks should be evaluated by a dermatologist, Prater said. Warning signs that may require a visit to a dermatologist include flaking, a pearly or shiny appearance of the lesion, and a change in pigmentation or color.
“We recommend screening once a year if the patient has no history of cancer or a family history of cancer. For patients who have [a history of] skin cancer, which is the most common cancer, one in five patients will have skin cancer in their lifetime. For these patients, they are checked a little more often. Often every three to six months, “said Prater.
If someone has used one of these products and has had an adverse effect, they can use MedWatch safety information and the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting Program by filling out and submitting an online form or calling the FDA at 1-800-332- 1088 to request a form.
The American Cancer Society has more information on skin cancer.
SOURCES: Cameron Roxard, MD, Dermatologist and Laser Surgeon, Center for Cosmetics, Skin and Laser Surgery in New York and Associate Professor, Dermatology, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York; Chad Prater, PhD, Dermatologist, Sanova Dermatology, Baton Rouge, La .; US Food and Drug Administration, news release, June 9, 2022