Did an Herbal Remedy Rot a Hole Through This Woman’s Nose?

Beth Greenfield
Senior Writer

Last week we warned you about the dangers of black salve — the natural, over-the-counter skin cancer “remedy” that can lead to disfiguring, disastrous results, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. And this week, we bring you a highly disturbing visual that appears to support those findings.

While the video of a woman whose nose appeared to “rot” from the salve was first posted to World’s Greatest Medical on YouTube last year, it’s receiving attention anew after being featured in the British tabloid Daily Star. “The woman smeared ‘black salve’ — an ointment which burns skin tissue — onto her hooter and forehead in a bid to cure her skin cancer,” the story notes. “But the remedy allegedly rotted the woman’s skin instead.”

On the YouTube post, which has been viewed more than 3.6 million times, the woman, who also smeared some of the salve onto another self-diagnosed spot on her forehead, explained her situation. “I have a diagnosed basal cell spot on tip of nose, opted out of Mohs surgery to go the natural route, after much research on the web,” she wrote, and then shared details of her black scab. “The eschar is still attached to my nose, but it’s loose enough that tonight, I could pull the top part away enough to see that my worst fear/outcome is going to be my reality. I can see my nose cartilage underneath the eschar, and I can even pull air through the top/front area of my nose if I completely clog my nostrils.”

The disturbing scabs this woman says the black salve caused on her nose and forehead. (Photo: YouTube)

Black salve, which refers to a family of ointments containing corrosive ingredients such as zinc chloride and sanguinarine (derived from the bloodroot plant Sanguinaria canadensis), can eliminate the top layer of skin. The study of its possible results, which was published in the May issue of the dermatology journal, not only found that people are using it without their doctor’s approval, but that it also brings on numerous possible side effects — such as infection, extensive scarring, and disfigurement — and that it can further complicate skin cancer.

“Basically, it’s a skin poison,” Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Centers, told Yahoo Beauty regarding the salve last week. “It just attacks and destroys living tissue and creates a scar. It’s killing the skin locally.”

It’s something the woman in the video apparently found out the hard way. “Understandably, as you can imagine,” she wrote, “I am sickened and freaked out by my personal revelation tonight — that the salve went completely through my nose down to my nasal passages.”

Related: All Sunscreens Are Not Created Equal: Check This Guide Before You Step Outside

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