Castor oil for pre-cancerous skin lesions?

Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous, due to too much sun-exposure over years, which appear as small, scaly lesions that are rough to the touch.

Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are small rough or scaly areas of skin due to damage from sun exposure. Some actinic keratoses can turn into squamous cell skin cancer, so it is important to perform self-examinations often and catch them early.
Picture of Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) on the ear in a male. This image displays a frequent site for actinic keratoses, the rim of the ear.
Who's At Risk - People with fair skin who sunburn easily; have trouble tanning; have blue, green, or hazel eyes; and red or blond hair are most at risk for developing actinic keratoses.
Picture of Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) on the scalp in a male. This image displays a bald scalp with areas of sun damage and actinic keratoses.
Those who have had a lot of sun exposure in their youth are at a high risk as well. Those with a weak immune system due to chemotherapy, HIV, or an organ transplant are at higher risk.
Picture of Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) on the leg in a male. This image displays actinic keratosis of the legs.
Spots usually appear in those who are older (over 50), but they can start appearing in younger adults who have had a lot of sun exposure. Darker-skinned individuals are rarely affected.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
  • Local destruction with freezing (cryosurgery), scraping (curettage), burning (electrocautery), dermabrasion, or a laser
  • Creams with either tretinoin, adapalene, fluorouracil, diclofenac, or imiquimod
  • Chemical peeling
  • Photodynamic therapy

a bottle of castor oil

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.

Phenol-castor oil: modified peel for dermal melasma

Safety of topical castor oil

"Overall, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that these cosmetic ingredients are safe in the practices of use and concentrations as described in this safety assessment."

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.


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