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Does Castor Oil Clear Actinic Keratosis?

One reader reports that castor oil helped eliminate a pre-cancerous skin lesion called actinic keratosis. Will it help anyone else?

Q. I thought you should know that years ago my husband’s dermatologist told him to use castor oil on pre-cancerous spots on his face. They all just sort of fell off and he never had to have any removed surgically.

A. We have to admit that we are surprised a dermatologist would actually recommend castor oil for pre-cancerous skin lesions. Most skin specialists would treat such a condition with standard approaches such as cryosurgery (freezing the abnormal cells), topical medications like 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cream, imiquimod (Aldara) cream or ingenol (Picato) gel.

Some dermatologists opt for scraping (curettage) followed by cauterization (electrosurgery). Others use a laser to remove the abnormal cells.

Does Castor Oil Do Anything?

We searched the medical literature for research on castor oil against actinic keratosis, which is a skin lesion resulting from sun exposure. Such spots are often categorized as pre-cancerous changes that can turn into squamous cell carcinomas.

We found one reference to an article published in 1982 in the journal Acta Pathologica, Microbiologica, Immunologica, Scandinavica suggesting that castor oil (Ricinus communis) binding to abnormal skin cells could be a useful diagnostic tool. A more recent study suggests that castor oil has both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory activity (Current Drug Topics, Oct 1, 2011). We also found a reference suggesting that castor oil penetrates deep into the skin.

All that said, we could find no credible evidence that castor oil can eliminate actinic keratoses. On the other hand, if a dermatologist were to supervise such treatment and follow a patient with these skin lesions carefully over time, there appears to be low risk. If castor oil did not help the lesions, there are lots of approved treatments the dermatologist could fall back on.

Do You Have Actinic Keratosis?

If you have spent a lot of time out in the sun, there is a reasonable chance you do have actinic keratoses (AKs). How would you know? Do you have places on your skin that feel scaly, a little like sandpaper? Anything on the skin that has a rough patch or that feels uncomfortable when rubbed should be seen by a dermatologist because it could be an actinic keratosis. Itching or burning are other symptoms to bring to the attention of a physician. Some AKs feel wart-like and look like a bump.

See for Yourself!

One of the very best websites for seeing skin lesions is SkinSight.com. To learn more about actinic keratoses and actually see pictures of this lesion, here is a link.

If you would like to learn more about the medicinal uses of castor oil for a range of conditions including warts, bruises, muscle pain, cracked fingertips, scars or skin takgs, click on this link.

If you love quirky, unusual approaches to common conditions, you will find our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies a valuable resource.

Share your own experience with castor oil in the comment section below.

8/12/19 redirected to: https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/will-castor-oil-help-clear-up-your-actinic-keratosis/

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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