J. Yeon1, P. Fernandez-Penas1
This case study is of a 46-year old male presenting with multiple ulcerated skin lesions of the scalp and face, self-diagnosed as skin cancer and then self-medicated with black salve. He reported to have used black salve for the past 7 months and was initially suggested by a friend for which he had seen positive results. There were multiple deep ulcerations with exposure to the parietal and occipital bone, eversion of the lip with scarring and multiple linear scars across the body.
Black slave is a product containing an active ingredient called sanguinarine obtained from the bloodroot plant (Sanguinaria Canadensis) and generally contain zine chloride. It is sold in Australia and made easily accessible to the public and marketed as ‘effective curing aids for skin cancers’. These products contain corrosive agents and are escharotic which destroys both cancerous and healthy skin that can lead to permanent scarring. This case highlights the potential danger of using poorly regulated products, alleged as ‘safe and effective’ to treat dermatological conditions. There is no monitoring of the quality, safety or efficacy of these products. As physicians, we need to be aware of the uses of unregulated products and potential side effects of these products. The use of black salve product on this patient has resulted in severe permanent skin damage on the face leaving an aesthetically unpleasing scar requiring plastic surgery.