Moles and apple cider vinegar

Moles and apple cider vinegar

One of the things about getting older, is that you discover new things about yourself. Like for example, the mole I had growing on the left side of my head, just below my hair line. It never really drew my attention until my hairline started to recede a little. Initially, it was smooth and mostly flat, but over time it became dry and scaly, and with these changes, it got bigger and bigger, about the size of a pencil eraser. So there I was, with a receding hairline and a big mole sticking out like a horn, large enough that my eleven year old daughter would poke at it and say “eeuuh” on a regular basis. It finally got so big that it would kind of catch on my shirt when I was taking it on and off. Although it was very clearly a benign mole, or nevus, it was getting to be a bit of an issue. So I decided to get rid of it. I thought about a few different methods, and then happened upon a folk remedy for removing moles with apple cider vinegar (ACV). Figuring I didn’t have much to lose by trying it out, I decided to give it a whirl.

A little bit about ACV

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting chopped apples in water and a little sugar for several months. In the first stage the wild yeasts are the dominant species, and utilize the sugars to produce alcohol. After some time, as the yeast die off, they are succeeded by acetic acid bacteria from the genus Acetobacter and others, which oxidize the alcohol to produce acetic acid, or vinegar. Once this slurry is strained, the bacterial colonies coalesce into a curious rubbery looking substance called the ‘mother’, or in Latin, Mycoderma aceti. This ‘mother’ serves as a repository of microbes in a quiescent state, until such time you scoop it out and use it again, for example, to turn left over red wine into red wine vinegar. Besides the acetic acid, ACV also contains other naturally occurring  acids including malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid. While the pH of ACV can vary considerably, depending on methods of preparation, Bragg’s states that their ACV has a pH of  3.075, and an acetic acid content of 5.14%.

DSBM_blog_adACV gets a lot of positive press from natural food types, and many think that it is a panacea for all kinds of issues including infection, digestive problems, insulin resistance, and even cancer. While I have always had a healthy respect for ACV, I was skeptical about many of the claims, many of which are unsubstantiated. The enthusiasm for ACV in particular appears to be a North American phenomena, evolving as part of the Natural Hygiene movement of the early 20th century. Among the many adherents of this belief in healthy food and fitness was Paul C. Bragg, an entrepreneur and marketer that pedalled a variety of folk remedies in the mid-1900s, including ACV. Marketed as a remedy to detoxify the body, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar later became the centre-piece of his company, and an icon in the natural foods industry. It is important to note, however, that ACV is a traditional food, and many cultures extol the virtues of its benefits. The best evidence for ACV’s benefits relates to its  antimicrobial and anti-infective properties, strong enough to dramatically inhibit pathogenic strains E. coli, just like the one that killed over 14 people in Germany in 2011, all from eating contaminated cucumbers. It’s easy to appreciate that ACV isn’t just a component of a tasty dressing, but an effective tool to ensure that your salad isn’t going to inoculate you with some nasty bacteria. Not only that, but soaking veggies in oil and vinegar in the same manner as a Greek salad actually increases the bioavailability of nutrients. Of course this won’t come as too much of a surprise to herbalists that have been making medicinal extracts with oil and vinegar for millennia. Other uses for ACV as an antimicrobial include using it for sore throats as a gargle, and topically in the treatment of fungal infections including yeast infections (Candida albicans), jock itch and athlete’s foot (Tinea spp.), and dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis (Malassezia spp.).

Another traditional use for ACV is as a digestive stimulant, and to this end, sometimes recommend it in diluted form as a way to stimulate intestinal motility and appetite.  In Ayurveda, vinegar is sour and pungent in taste, hot and light in quality, and acts to increase the digestive fire. The little bit of research on ACV suggests that it does indeed have a stimulatory effect on digestive activity, particularly on motility, and it may be this action which is responsible for its other attributed effects. According to Ayurveda, when digestion is restored, the health of the entire body benefits. The important thing, however, is to make sure that you’re using it correctly, and with ACV, a little goes a long way!

There is also some evidence that ACV may have a favourable impact upon health issues including obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. In one study from 2008, researchers demonstrated that ACV could improve the serum lipid profile of experimentally-induced diabetic rats. In 2009, the results from a Japanese clinical trial were published, showing that the consumption of diluted ACV, 15-30 mL in 500 mL of water once daily, significantly improved the metabolic health of obese participants, reducing obesity, body fat mass, and serum triglycerides.  Since then, however, there hasn’t been much research on ACV and its metabolic benefits, most likely because nobody holds the patent on apple cider vinegar. Just like the hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach, ACV is capable of denaturing proteins, breaking them down into smaller peptide chains. Thus the other significant body of research on ACV relates to its erosive capacity, breaking down tissues in the human body. For example, there is one case report of a chemical burn caused by the topical application of ACV. In another report, a 15 year old girl is diagnosed with significant dental erosion caused by drinking ACV for weight loss. And in another case, a body-builder that drank up to a cup of ACV on a daily basis for six years ended up with osteoporosis. And while this all of this sounds very negative, it was this protein-digesting property of ACV that intrigued me when I considered my mole situation. Thus armed with a little more knowledge, I decided to take the plunge…

The materials

• organic raw apple cider vinegar
• sterile needle (sterilize with a match or lighter, or clean with rubbing alcohol)
• cotton balls

Knowing that I needed to get the ACV to penetrate past the surface of the mole, I decided to gently poke the mole with a sterile needle. Fortunately, there isn’t any nerve tissue in a mole, so it didn’t hurt a bit. I then soaked a piece of cotton in ACV, and applied this to the mole for 20 minutes. This is what it looked like immediately after the first application:

mole1

The following evening I repeated the same procedure, gently poking the mole with a sterile needle, and applying the ACV for about 20-30 minutes. As you can see from the (blurry) photo below, there was some local reddening after application, but no pain or irritation:

mole2

On the third day, the mole was no longer looking like a mole – just like a scab. Again I gently pricked the mole with the needle, but the mole was greatly reduced in thickness, and it was easy to prick the skin below which hurt. Again, I applied the ACV for about 20-30 minutes. This is what it looked like on the evening of day three:

mole3

By the fourth day my mole was, for intents and purposes, no longer mole, but most definitely a scab. It took a lot for me not to fiddle with it over the next day, because it was a little itchy and just kind of hanging there. On the fifth day the mole-scab eventually came off, only a fraction of the size of the original mole. This is what it looked like after it fell off, with the fresh pink skin underneath:

mole4

Over the next few days, I applied some comfrey/calendula/plantain, and saw steady improvement in healing. By the end of the week any indication that there was ever a mole on my forehead disappeared entirely:

mole5

Now two weeks later, and no re-appearance of anything mole-like growing from that same spot, I would say that the treatment was a success. And in fact I would say that the entire process was quite remarkable: a rapid response with very little pain or discomfort, just some temporary reddening of the skin after application:

mole6

As a result of my experiment with ACV and mole removal, I am inclined to suggest this method for some of my patients that have the same issue. If you have a mole, however, and what to remove it, please get it checked out first to determine what kind of mole it is. For the removal of benign moles, or nevi, the ACV method seems to be fine, but I would caution against using this method for questionable moles such as dysplastic nevi that might be cancerous. Although there are some sites out there that extol the virtues of ACV for cancer, there isn’t any clinical evidence that ACV alone can inhibit cancer. Likewise, the belief that ACV makes the body alkaline, and that this prevents and treats cancer, is a faulty concept that I have addressed elsewhere. Thus while ACV certainly is no panacea, it does have a number of benefits that should be considered.

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Comments

  1. I have a mole right in the crease of my neck under my chin and I want to try this. Do you cover the mole at all after holding the ACV soaked cottonball on it for 20-30 mins. Like use a bandaid or anything?

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      I didn’t – I simply applied the ACV for abut 20-30 minutes a day, after I poked it several times with a needle to increase surface area.

      • himynameis says:

        I have tried this method and today will be the 6th day. I see progress in the condition of my mole and it looks pruny… But it hasn’t fallen off. I have been soaking cotton balls in ACV just how I should. Any piece of advice to make the procedure go faster? The mole I’m removing is on my left armpit, by the way.

  2. Hi,, I live in Europe, and ACV is not the same here as in your part of the world. I normally buy bio ACV to use in salads but also to calm an itchy skin.
    I have a large mole on my cheekbone, and it did not bother me so far, but my granddaughter (1,5 yrs) now sometimes takes it and pulls it. I would like to get rid of it. Do you think I can use a sterilised needle to put holes in it, and then put ACV on it? I think I would use a band aid on it, just to be sure.
    What do you think?
    Also, lately I have small moles on the upper half of my body, they start like small dark red spots, like you pinned your skin, but then grow into small moles. It seems like they are populating the top half of my body. They do not hurt, or itch, but it is not such a nice thing to have them on your body either.
    Thank you for your advice.

  3. Thank you for this article. Would ACV work to remove rosacea “bumps” as I call them? These appear like pimples, but will not go away, according to my dermatologist, unless he zaps them with a laser. He has seen the ones I have and they are benign and caused by rosacea, he says. I would much prefer to find a more natural way to remove them (and less expensive).

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      Emrys, re: ACV and rosacea, I don’t have any practical experience using ACV with rosacea. However, I have used other methods successfully, including topical and internal measures, as well as dietary changes. You need to think of ways to change the ecology of your skin, as in many cases rosacea is caused by the tiny Demodex mite. ACV might be helpful here, but I wouldn’t do anything more than dabbing it on the face, and then rinsing it off 15-20 minutes later – not more than twice daily. Make sure to discontinue if there is any irritation.

  4. Phil McCrackin says:

    Hi, could could you tell me or send a link to a most reliable ACV to buy online please? Any that just say, Organic Apple Cider Vinger, will that be OK or is there a certain type/brand? thanks.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      Hi Phil,

      You can easily make your own… many DIY resources online. Otherwise, look for organic non-pasteurized AVC with the “mother”. Here in Canada, I have used a number of brands, including Bragg’s and Spectrum.

  5. When you say you applied the ACV for 20-30 minutes, do you mean: A) You dabbed it on and then waited 20-30 minutes before rinsing it off. or B) You held an ACV saturated cotton ball against your mole for 20-30 minutes.

  6. Penny Ormond says:

    Hi Todd, I read this article the other night and was wondering if this same process would work for skin tags? I have tried Tea Tree Oil and it was not successful. Thank you.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      Hi Penny – it might work for skin tags using the same method. Essentially, you’re using the acids in the ACV to destroy living tissue. Tea tree, however, may promote some local irritation, but doesn’t have the same kind of escharotic effect as ACV.

      • Hi Penny and Todd, I had a skin tag years ago and my doctor suggested I try tying a piece of cotton tightly around the thin part that joined it to my body, to cut off the blood supply. I did this and the skin tag became black and swollen and then dropped off. It took a few days and it wasn’t particularly pleasant, but it was better than surgery and a very simple, practical solution.

  7. SassyMouse says:

    Hi I have started this process, and find I am not having the same results. I have a lg mole on my cheek, which has been confirmed as non cancerous. It is also the size of a pencil eraser. I pricked it with a sterilized needle just as you recommended and applied non pasteurized acv. Braggs. I applied it for 30 min and I didn’t see much of a change. So after a couple if hours I repeated the process, this time making sure to poke more holes and poke a little deeper, I was actually bleeding. I have done this several times already. I am seeing some change in color from pinkish to an almost black color. It is not an all over change but it is some change. My questions are how many holes should I poke and how deep? Do you think doing it more than once a day is ok? Do individual results vary? I really hate this mole on my face and I am very eager for it to be gone. Please help.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      You should only need to poke it and apply the ACV once to twice daily, and it may take a couple weeks to get results. Check out the photos and compare to your own.

  8. Magda Kruszewska says:

    Hi Todd, your article is great! Fortunately i don’t have any moles to get rid of :) But i have a question…you can find it silly….My dog have a big one just under a collar line…it gets irritated easily :( Vet told me that moles are not dangerous for dogs but this particular one is growing and i really would like to get rid of it….And i’m sorry if you think that it’s inappropriate. Thank you! :)

  9. Congratulations – what a great result. Before I give it a try, can you tell me about the comfrey/calendula/plantain mix you used?

  10. Madison Stroud says:

    I have always had a puffy mole similar to the one you had, only it’s on my stomach, next to my belly button. I’m 28 years old and have had this mole as long as I can remember. I have been told by doctors that it’s just a normal mole, non-cancerous, and that it’s just a “cosmetic decision” about whether I want to remove it or not. Since it’s not necessary to remove it and would cost more money than I am ok with, I’ve never had it removed. However, I very much want to try your ACV method. Did the ACV burn when you held it to the poked mole? Is there any way I can mess this up and cause an infection or anything?

  11. bellaedward says:

    Hi there. I have a mole in the worst place….on my nose. It’s not huge, but it is right at the end of my nose. I’ve always wanted to get rid of it, do you think it would work on a nose mole?

  12. Do you think this would work with cherry angiomas?

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      Possibly… I haven’t tried yet. Some people, however, cauterize the cherry angiomas with a heated pin.

      • Hi Todd, can the cherry angiomas be treated/removed with this vinegar treatment also? And do you think it is absolutely neccessary to pierce the mole before applying the vinegar? Won’t it also work if you just apply the vinegar? I’m tempted to try just applying the apple cider vinegar to my cherry angiomas for 30 minutes a day and see what that does….. Would applying apple cider vinegar to cancerous lesions on the skin, be harmful do you think? Sorry, so many questions! ….Ok, I’ll email :D

        • Todd Caldecott says:

          I don’t know about cherry angiomas, as I haven’t tried this yet, but I expect it would work. And yes, I think piercing the mole is essential to increase surface area. And no, I would not suggest this for cancerous lesions at all! Only for benign nevi, as I stated in the blog.

  13. janine jenkins says:

    Hi Todd,
    I was wondering if this method would work for skin colored moles as well? over the last few years I’ve grown a few skin colored bumps or moles on my face and want to get rid of them so bad.
    thanks
    janine

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      I am not sure, without seeing them. Perhaps try a small one, in a discrete location, and test it before using it elsewhere. Sometimes those bumps aren’t moles, but something else…

  14. Just wanted to let you know that I used your ACV method and it WORKED! I wish I had taken pictures, but my mole (on my forehead, at my hairline above my right eye) went through the exact transformation as your pictures showed. Mine took a bit longer, about a week and a half and I applied the acv everyday for 20-30 minutes. This morning, after my shower, the scab came off except for a small corner that looks like it still has a day or two to go. Thank you so much for this method. I had previously had it looked at by my Dr. and she suggested I see a dermatologist for removal (non-cancerous). Your method was much cheaper (lol) and a very interesting process to watch! Thanks again!!

  15. tingting says:

    I have a non cancerous mole that is on my chest… about 5 years ago it got stuck in my shower puff and ripped half off! Now it gets “hung up” in many things, which can be painful.

    Here’s my question: can I use this method safely while pregnant? I am just short of my 23rd week.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      It has no systemic effect, so I cannot see how it would affect your pregnancy. However, if you have concerns take them up with your health care practitioner.

  16. Steve Williams says:

    Hey, Todd

    I have just turned 50 and with a crown hairline I now have a brown, flat crustation appearing on the top left of my forehead. It is not a mole as it is flat and according to my doctor, just an ‘age’ thing. Obviously I cannot pierce it but can I treat it with ACV directly to that area in some way or consume it orally? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Cheers,

    Steve.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      It works as a corrosive agent… so if it is a flat mole, it could leave a pock mark.

      • Steve Williams says:

        Ok, thanks for that. So, can I use it orally then, or not at all in my case? If I cannot, do you have any other recommendations?

        Thanks.

        • Todd Caldecott says:

          Since its not a mole, and I can’t see it, it’s hard to say how to best address this issue. I don’t think it would hurt to apply it topically for a week or so, and see what happens. Internally, the ACV won’t have any effect.

          • Steve Williams says:

            No problem I’ll give it a go. I will try it for a fortnight and re-post my findings in this thread.

            Cheers.

  17. filipmibe says:

    I have been reading this with lots of interest…My father in law died of a melanoma and even thow i have a benign mole on my forehead and love to get rid of it,i would never be as brave as to try this.

    The result is unbelivable! If i remove my mole surgically ,the mark would cause more boldness to my already bold head,due to giving birth to my third child.It is a very upsetting issue to me…
    I would looove to try this,but there are no garanties and i am affraid.
    How can you be sure that nothing wrong can happen concidering you poke the mole?
    Thank you!

  18. Liz Babcock says:

    Thanks Todd for your informative article. We have had great success in our family getting rid of warts with the ACV method. It was suggested to us by a doctor when my daughter had a deep planters wart on her foot. She was too frightened to have it burned off so he quietly suggested this method to us. We placed a bit of ACV on a bit of cotton ball onto the wart and covered it with a bandaid. We applied the ACV bandaid before bed and removed it in the morning. This took about 2 to 3 weeks. We had the same experience of it turning black and eventually falling off. The wart has never returned and that was 4 years ago.
    I wonder, could this be effective for acne?

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      Hi Liz

      Glad to hear of your results. ACV works basically as a corrosive acid, denaturing proteins. As such, it’s good for when you want to remve a tissue, but something like acne is an inflammation of otherwise normal skin… as such using ACV might just damage the skin, although a dilute solution would provide a source of probiotic bacteria, and this can help to treat acne. But it wouldn’t be my only tool, and I would use it carefully so as not to induce more inflammation.

  19. Siobhain says:

    Hi Todd,

    Do you know if I could use this to remove a Seborrheic Keratosis? Or do you know of any treatment for these, I’ve gone to my local GP and a Dermatoligist but they said to just leave them be as removal can cause scarring (I have about 10 on my legs!)
    Many thanks, Siobhain.

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      I have no clinical experience using this method for seborrheic keratoses, but it seems like it might work. Perhaps try one, and see what your response is…?

  20. I used ACV a few years ago to remove a mole on my chin and it worked really well! I put vaseline around the mole before applying the vinegar and it really helped in reducing any irritation and redness. I had read that an emory board could also be used to scratch up the surface before applyng the ACV, so I did that instead of pricking it with a needle. I’m not that brave!

  21. Todd, thankyou so much for this inofromative article and since i have big mole on my neck and i want to remove it. :)

  22. hpascual says:

    Does it removes flat moles also? And does AVC removes mole temporarily or permanently? Please answer..

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      haven’t tried it for flat moles, but i expect it would work the same… and if you remove the entire mole it should not return

  23. aseaney says:

    Would it be safe to say this could work on skin tabs? I don’t know if there is an real difference between them other than mine look more like layered like versus a round flat topped mole.

  24. VASSUNDIRA says:

    Dear Toddy, I have a mole of the size of a marble on the internal part of my left thigh just below the groins. Can I apply this method to remove it? It was in the size of a pepper about 10 years ago and now it is in the size of a marble.
    Thanks.

  25. mrsashleywise says:

    I have a mole just like the one you had but my problem is mine is above the hairline… could I still try this? I’m just worried it may be a problem because of my hair…

  26. I have what they call a beauty mole (dont laugh) it is red in color but I want it off. is this considered a mole. thanks

  27. Is there any store brands you recommend that I buy? I lived in new york. U.S.A. I dont think I could pull of making it my self. I do have a few moles on my face and have always had low self esteem cause of them, would really like to try this out so plz respond.

  28. cheshirekat says:

    I have never worked out what kind of mole i have but after looking at comparison i believe a have a halo nevus in the centre of my forehead. Though i believe this it what it is i have never noticed the halo however i am quite light skinned and don’t often get a tan. Would this method work, i have been considering having it cut out but since the location is so obvious it seems to negate the surgery.

    Thanks

  29. nzasadzinska says:

    Do you think this method will work on birthmark looking just like big flat mole (5cm long, 2cm wide)?

  30. Lenda Selph says:

    Dr. Caldecott,
    I tried your method of removing a mole on my forehead, and it worked! I have very sensitive skin, however, and wish I had protected the surrounding skin with Vaseline, because the ACV blistered my skin. I used Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. The mole dropped off after the fourth day. And as you said, the needle didn’t hurt. I just happened upon your post on Facebook about removing a mole with ACV. Thank you so much.
    About 15 years ago I removed a mole on my waistline by tying a noose around the mole with dental floss. Every day I pulled the string tighter until the mole dropped off after about 7 days. It has never grown back.
    Thanks again. You helped me greatly. Now I don’t have to wear bangs!

  31. Hi Todd, I really need your help I’m only young and so paranoid about this mole I have on my hand, it’s like the size of a pencil eraser I’m width maybe Abit smaller but I would say compare to your mole which was removed it is quite flat to my skin and only raised a little off my skin but still a mole, I am wondering do you know what will happen to this if I apply ACV like it won’t fall off but I’m hoping it will disappear? please I help I would love your advice Todd thanks!

  32. james brown says:

    Hi Todd, I have two questions.

    1. Someone asked, but your answer wasn’t specific. If you have an erasure sized mole, should you prick it once, or in several places?

    2. Does the ACV need to be unpasturised? I’m sure I can find it, but haven’t been able to at my local grocery stores. Is it the acidic properties, or the organic/bacterial properties that are effective?

    I just started trying it 4 days ago for diagnosed actinic keratosis.. surface applied twice daily, non-organic. visible reduction on 1 of the 2 spots (the smaller less developed spot) but to early for me to draw conclusions. I had not thought of pricking or longer term soaking with ACV. I’ll post any results. answer to question 1 and any thoughts on question 2 would be greatly appreciated.

    ~James

    • Todd Caldecott says:

      1. Prick it all over to increase surface area.
      2. It’s the acidic properties that are active… but it could be that the organisms in the cider contribute to the process.

  33. collidedsky says:

    Hi, so I have a mole or a beauty mark on my eyelid near my eyebrow and it’s about the size of a pencil tip, so it’s not big, but rather small. I was wondering if i could apply ACV without poking my mole with a needle since it’s literally on my eyelid and I could stab my eye. Or is this another way I could do this?

  34. olra bright says:

    Hello, I am 19 years old and I am really concerned about 2 moles (one on the tip of my nose) and one above my lip( this one is half of the size of the mole showed in the picture and it is blacker). They don’t seem to be changing so fast, I have had them since I was younger. the also seem to be growing hair that I regularly but That’s why I don’t like them and I want to get rid of them. I don’t feel good around people, it seems to me like they stare at me just because of them. Do you think it would be dangerous to use ACV as I am talking about my face and I don’t want to cause myself bigger trouble? Is there any chance that the mole grows again later?

  35. Hi Todd, I followed your directions exactly and to my disbelief within three days of applying the ACV for 20-30 minutes per session my mole fell off. I was prepared to pay a plastic surgeon well over $3,000.00 to remove the mole. But, a home remedy that cost me less than $10.00 removed what had become a thorn in my side with no traces of it ever being there. Thank You:)

  36. Jenna Acosta says:

    Hi Todd! I was wondering if it NEEDS to be organic, or if using nonorganic ACV would work just as well?

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