BACK UP ON THE BLACK SALVE!

Warning this post contains biased content!

 If you’re considering using Black Salve as a ‘natural’ alternative skin cancer….think again! Back up on the Black Salve!

As more and more people access Dr Google as their primary health care provider, the potential for misdiagnosis and mistreatment with potentially disastrous consequences looms large, – especially where the controversial Black Salve is concerned.

Skin cancers come in many shapes, sizes and colours and are not always able to be seen with the naked eye. They are sometimes very tricky to diagnose even for a skilled professional, which is why a thorough medical history, skin examination using specialised equipment, biopsy and the skill set of a specialised health professional all contribute to definitively diagnose skin cancer…… even then, some slip through to the gatekeeper.

 Don’t believe everything you read on the net!

Living in Queensland, the skin cancer capital of Australia, I see many clients who have successfully sought medical intervention for the removal of their skin cancers with great cosmetic and clinical outcomes but increasingly – and thanks to Dr Google, growing numbers of clients present who have already self diagnosed and initiated treatment of their ‘skin cancers’ with what they have been encouraged to consider to be a more natural treatment option – Black Salve.

Sadly, I have seen first hand the disastrous cosmetic results of this potentially dangerous practice, which often includes hypo-pigmentation, tissue destruction (and deep, permanent scarring needing surgical revision.

(A quick search on the internet will reveal horrific examples of people with  large areas of noses missing after using  Black Salve!! – go on I dare you to look.)

Slack jawed I read testimonials on many of Facebook’s Black Salve’s discussion group pages from people offering up well meaning advice on how to treat these strange spots which have recently appeared – ‘what have you got to lose’, or ‘just use it’ are some of the comments which may turn out to be the most terminal advice ever given.

A case study describing Black Salve causality published in 2014 was of a woman diagnosed with melanoma who declined to undergo surgical removal – instead preferring to purchase black salve over the internet – and returning 5 years later with the tragic outcome of metastatic melanoma cancer throughout her body.

What is it and how black salve works…?

 Black Salve, Red salve Cansema, blood root, Herbveil8, Can-X, CentreForce ,Curaderm, Hoxsey’s dark red paste, Mexican black salve, and PureCents are all common names and derivatives of   Sanguinaria Canadensis (an ammonium salt and alkaloid) derived from the botanical bloodroot, described on the internet as a safe and effective way of treating anything from moles, warts, skin tags to skin cancers.

 When mixed with zinc chloride into a paste, and used topically, it creates what is called an eschar. This paste has been described as possessing properties that preferentially targets and kills cancer-affected cells, leaving behind healthy tissues. Most sadly this claim is unfounded in evidence. Its mechanism of action is still unclear but it is thought the bloodroot causes widespread cell death by apoptosis whilst the zinc chloride corrodes the tissue when applied topically. Black salve is like a nuclear missile, indiscriminately, destroying it’s target and everything in it’s path.

An eschar (/ˈɛskɑːr/; Greek: eschara) is a slough or piece of dead tissue that is cast off from the surface of the skin, particularly after a burn injury, but also seen in gangrene, ulcer, fungal infections, necrotizing spider bite wounds, spotted fevers and exposure to cutaneous anthrax.

mmmmm….Not so natural….

When people considering black salve as a natural treatment alternative for skin cancer they may be disappointed to learn Black Salve contains the chemical zinc chloride. Zinc chloride, a known skin irritant, is used in the industrial manufacturing of textiles and metal work and is added to help penetrate the epidermis. It’s a chemical synthesised from zinc and hydrochloric acid and does not generally occur naturally.

Know the Side effects and risks of Black salve

  •  Obscures tumour identification
  • Unconfirmed clearance of cancer cells
  • Increase of cancer recurrence or spread
  • Destruction and invasion of healthy tissue – imprecise anatamical application of paste resulting in larger than necessary wound and deformity
  • Poor cosmetic outcome
  • Slower healing
  • Greater risk of complications due to infection
  • Open wound
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Deficits- hollows in the skin due to dermal and subcutaneous tissue destruction

Tip: the longer a wound takes to heal the increased risk of scarring

What the authorities say….

Although our Therapeutic Goods Australia (TGA) regulatory body have not banned the use of Black Salve in Australia, they have strongly advised against the use of black salve or any of its derivatives.

 “The TGA is not aware of any credible, scientific evidence which shows that any black or red salve preparation is effective in treating cancer.”

We know early detection and accurate diagnosis goes a long way in reducing preventable deaths from skin cancer. The use of black salve may increase the risk of diagnostic delay by obscuring cancers and delaying appropriate treatment

As a skin health professional I always try to advocate for my readers and provide content enabling you to make informed decisions based on evidence-based research. Based on this philosophy, I unequivocally recommend against the use of Black Salve….the risks and side effects are not in favour of Black Salve when treating skin cancer!

Have you had any experience with Black Salve?

Scar Free || Treatment options for scar minimisation explained!

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It’s all fun and games until you end up over the handle bars of your bike….scenes of tears, scars or worse, Brad Pitt-less – that is if you’re Angelina! Unless you live in a bubble or are Teflon coated, chances are you won’t have a skin which is ‘Scar Free’.  Whether from surgery, pool dives gone wrong, cuts, stretchmarks or even acne; scars are an inevitable tracing of a life well lived. Wherever the skin has been broken and needs to repair itself, there will be a story to be told with a scar.

 Defintion:Scar – a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed.

 Any injury to our skin can result in a temporary or sometimes unwelcome permanent scar. If it’s not a conversation opener at a dinner party, we spend a lot of time disguising, covering or wanting to get rid of them.

 Unlike the gorgeous Kate Middleton, your scar isn’t hidden beneath your hairline, there are a number of scar minimisation treatment options available to help reduce the appearance of those unwanted scars.

Skin heals unpredictably and so it can tough to predict the nature and extent of scarring after an injury or operation. Multiple factors including skin type, age, health status and the depth and nature of the injury to the skin all contribute to how a scar heals and what residual signs or scars may be left. Different skin types also have an impact on how the skin heals For example, Asian or darker skin types have an increased risk of developing keloid, hypertrophic scarring or post inflammatory hyper pigmentation.

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 First up….Types of scars

 Mature scars are scars which have completed the healing process. These types are definitely more challenging to treat.

Flat scars are scraped knees, abrasions or common superficial injuries.

 Atrophic scars are indented or depressed scars where and include the destruction of the supporting structure of the dermis- seen in post acne scarring.

 Keloid or Hypertrophic scars occur from superficial to deep injury of the skin and more commonly affect darker skin types or those with an Asian descent. They may undergo surgical revision with no guarantee of resolution. Keloid scars usually occur from the chest up, where scar tissue grows outside the borders or boundaries of the original scar or injury – seen in tribal markings or facial piercings.

 Hyper-pigmentation This is where there is a darkening of the skin caused by an increase in melanin production in the post inflammatory phase of a wound repair. Sun exposure during the healing process can exacerbate this.

Hypo-pigmentation is a loss of melanin to the site of injury and may be permanent or temporary depending on the depth of injury.

Early tip; Before that scar horse bolts…… Good wound care and scar prevention is always better than seeking scar minimisation treatment options.

 A quick tour on how the skin heals…

There are three phases in wound healing and they all overlap each other ultimately resulting in the healing of a wound-

Inflammatory phase the bodies first response, is to stop the bleeding and send in it’s army of protective cells to ward off infection as well as cells that will direct the healing process .

Proliferation phase– is the crucial rebuilding stage where epithelial cells (skin cells) resurface the wound — seen in a scab.

Maturation phase this is the final stage and the replacement of collagen from type III to type 1.During this phase erythema or redness decreases. This phase may take up to 2 years to complete.

Myth busting.A common misconception is that wounds should be air dried and a scab allowed to form. Recent studies now confirm that keeping wounds moist and covered with dressings not only reduces pain and the risk of infection but also results in faster healing times when compared to dry wound healing.

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Tip; A quicker a wound heals the less of a scar it will form.

You’ve got that Scar now what?

Treatments explained….
  • Sunscreen –  Sun protection is vital for minimising the appearance of scars preventing hyper or hypo pigmentation – Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Tip; the zinc in broad-spectrum sunscreens has great healing properties in addition to sun protection.

  • Massage the wound gently – this helps in breaking down and lessons the risk of thick scarring from forming. Massaging should only be performed during the maturation phase of healing.
  • Retinols – when applied topically these Vitamin A derivatives help to control hyperpigmentation whilst facilitating cell renewal.
  •  Silicon gel sheeting – Putting a sheet of silicon gel on a scar every day may help it fade or keep it from getting worse. The sheeting is available at pharmacies or from dermatologists and should be used for at least 3 months.
  • Concealer – A quick fix! Pick a shade that is waterproof and most effective with the colour of your scar and skin tone. For a pink scar use concealer with green undertones, for a brown scar, try a concealer with a yellow undertones.
  • Dermal fillers – Injecting substances such as collagen or fat can immediately raise sunken atrophic scars. However, this treatment isn’t permanent and may need to be repeated regularly to maintain benefit.
  • Steroid injections – These may help flatten raised scars, but a long-term course may be needed note-Long term use of steroids in the skin may also cause a thinning of the skin.
  • Dermabrasion – This procedure abrades the surface of the skin,helping to reduce the look of raised scars.
  • Laser resurfacing  – The skin surface is removed with lasers, or lasers are used to work on the collagen in the dermis without removing the upper layer of skin.
  • Micro-needling – Small needles are delivered into the dermal layers of the skin, to break down scar tissue and stimulate the formation of new collagen.
  • Subcision – The sharp edge of a hypodermic needle is used to break down fibrous connective strands underneath the scar to improve appearance .
  • Surgery – You can’t remove a scar entirely with surgery, but you can alter its size, depth, or colour. Surgery isn’t suggested for hypertrophic or keloid scars because it can make them worse.Consult with an experienced Plastic Surgeon or Cosmetic Surgeon prior to considering this option.

The good news is scars do resolve themselves significantly over time but some may never completely disappear.It’s good to know however, that for those people who can do without the permanent reminder of a life well lived, there are many scar minimisation treatment options available.

Have you had any success with removing scars?

Susan x

AT WAR WITH PIGMENTATION – MY TOP TIPS!

 

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We Aussies love our sunburnt country! Many Australians will have experienced a ‘Sunburnt Sunday’. Unfortunately, those lazy Sundays  spent in the sun can manifest in pigmentary dischromias in the skin. These pigmentary dischromias are  caused by the  accumulation  of UV exposure and referred to as photoaging. Unwanted dark spots, uneven skin tone, solar lentigines (brown age spots) and even Melasma-a condition which can be triggered by the sun, hormones or have a genetic influence are a visible reminder of our

fun in the sun.

Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options available to reduce the appearance of pigmentation, all involving persistence, patience and a little light based intervention. Depending on the type and severity of pigmenation treatment options can be tailored to skin type with great outcomes and happy campers!

When 2 tribes go to war- Hyper vs Hypopigmentation

Hypopigmentation is the absence of melanin and is caused by sun damage, seen in conditions such as Idiopathic  Guttate  Hypomelanosis and Vitligo. Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis appears as ‘white spots’ in sun exposed extremities like arms and legs. Vtiligo includes larger areas of depigmentation and may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, triggered by sunburn, stress, genetics, viral infections or even physical trauma to the skin. In a recent blog I’ve detailed  available treatments options – From Valentino to Vitligo for further reading. Fungal infections such as Tinea Versicolour

or Pityriasis Alba may also temporarily cause hypopigmentation and are successfully treated with anti-fungal or over the counter steroidal creams.

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the cells, which produce pigment in our skin called melanocytes, are overactive and produce an excess of melanin, resulting in an uneven distribution of pigment.-the cause of which can be due to sun damage, hormones or disease-which in some cases are more difficult to treat.

Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with hyperpigmentation. I hate that hyperpigmentation is a visible sign of aging-photoaging. Conversely, I love the outdoorsy lifestyle which keeps me on the hyperpigmentation treadmill of triggering pigmentation and it’s subsequent removal! I also love the many treatment options available used to treat my hyperpigmentation .I’ve used them all……well most of them, to successfully fade and treat my pigmentation…..here are my tips!

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Weapons of mass pigmentary destruction

Home care arsenal – ingredients to look for and include in your skin care!
  • Sunscreen – prevents the oxidative stress caused by UV rays leading to pigmentation
  • AHA’s BHA’s  and Exfoliators – shortens the cell cycle, removes superficial skin cells,  interferes with pigment transfer and allows deeper penetration of lightening agents
  • Vitaminc C- inhibits melanocyte proliferation
  • Licorice extract
  • Bleaching agents Hydroquinone, Kojic acid, Azealaic acid and Arbutin
  • Retinols accelerates cell turnover
  • Niacinamde/Nicotinic acid/ Soy acts as a skin lightener working by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes – keratinocytes in the production of melanin.

Tip; Allow 12 weeks to see an improvement. As a point of reference, take a photo so you have something with which to compare and track improvement.

Bring on the big guns !

  • Lasers/ IPL – treat pigmented lesions by selective photothermolysis, Heating the targeted tissue, effectively destroying the pigmented cells.
  • Chemical peels are another great treatment option to consider.They can vary in strength and depth of penetration and should be tailored to skin type. Combinations of Glycolic and Lactic acids have been found useful in treating pigmentary disorders by lifting and exfoliating the superficial pigmented layers of the skin.
  • Kligmans formula – a combination topical therapy containing Vitamin A, Hydroquinone and a corticosteroid-prescription only and not advised for long term use.
  • Transexamic Acid an oral treatment used as a treatment for heavy periods it has been found to inhibit tyrosinase activity aiding in prevention of melanin production.

Understanding the types and causes of pigmentation will contraindicaciones del viagra en adultos mayores determine which treatment options will  achieve the best outcome. Together with a tailored home care program  ‘Winning the War’ against pigmentation has never been clearer!

Need some help with diagnosing what type of pigmentation you have, drop me a line?

Susan x