Escharotic and other botanical agents for the treatment of skin cancer: a review

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Carcinoma, Basal Cell; Cheek; Complementary Therapies; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Mohs Surgery; Nose Neoplasms; Ointments; *Phytotherapy; *Plants, Medicinal; Rumex; Sanguinaria; Scalp; Skin Neoplasms; Treatment Failure; Trifolium


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Dermatology | Neoplasms | Skin and Connective Tissue Diseases


A growing era of alternative medicine is upon us. All who practice medicine have a small population of patients who eschew Western medicine and prefer alternative approaches, including botanical remedies, to treat their medical problems. Many alternative practitioners advertise and sell products on the Internet. Indeed, this trend now includes a growing number of topical treatments for skin cancer, including escharotic agents.

Self-treatment of skin cancer requires a substance that will destroy tissue, usually indiscriminately. Escharotic agents are caustic, corrosive substances that produce a thick coagulated crust (an eschar) and subsequently a scar.

The following case illustrates one representative situation.


Citation: Jellinek N, Maloney ME. Escharotic and other botanical agents for the treatment of skin cancer: a review. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Sep;53(3):487-95. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2005.04.090.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed