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Do Mole Removing Products Work?

Posted May 06 2012 2:01am

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Bluecatbaby asks…A salon in my town is offering a Groupon deal on a skin treatment called Rejuvi Spotaway. They advertise it as being able to remove brown spots and moles, and it is a topical product that is applied once in the salon. I’m interested but wary. Can anyone tell me if this is a good idea? The deal expires in 4 days. 

The Right Brain responds:

Bluecatbaby is one of the regulars in our Forum and we became worried for her when we saw she was looking at mole removal products. Moles are dark clumps of pigment that can become cancerous and they should not be taken lightly! (pun intended.)  It’s frightening how much bad information about mole removal products is out there on the inter webs. According to one astonishingly bad piece of information we found, if you want to avoid the expense and hassle of  surgery you can simply cut off the offending mole with a pair of scissors. Yikes! But when we went to debunk these mole minimizers we were surprised at how hard it can be to find clear proof that something absurd is not true.

If we told you that sticking a green bean up your nose is an easy cure for a headache, you would be hard-pressed to find any evidence to the contrary in the scientific literature. No one would have wasted their time doing a study to disapprove such a ridiculous notion. You’d find plenty of information about what DOES work (especially when the subject deals with an over-the-counter drug) but you WON’T find a paper entitled “Results of a Double-blind Clinical Study Proving Nasal Injection of Phaseolus vulgaris (Green Beans) Resolves Cranial Pain.” That’s kind of how we felt when researching removal creams. There was no “smoking gun” that said mole removing creams were BS. So, we’ll have to rely on a rather circumspect argument to make our case.

First, there are no approved over-the-counter drug treatments to remove moles, that much was easy to establish. You can search for yourself looking at the FDA’s list of approved OTC monographs .

Some of the mole removing creams that we found supposedly work by using “acid” that caused the mole to dissolve. For example, here are the ingredients in the Spotway product that BCB asked: Deionized water , magnesium oxide, n-propanol, benzoic acid, triethanolamine, phytic acid

We found other products which used “skin irritating” acids to “dissolve” the mole. This sounds suspiciously familiar to the type of salicylic acid products which ARE approved for removing warts. Okay, moles and warts are both skin bumps. Isn’t ok to use the same product for both? The answer is a resounding “Nope!” The Wart Remover monograph specifically says that this product should not be used on moles.

I did find this well reasoned explanation of the whole issue on but it wasn’t credited to a specific medical professional so I feel bad for including it. Still, it supports my point so here it is anyway:
Irritating the mole with a chemical cream will not make it go away. The only effective ways to remove moles are to have them surgically removed by a dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon or, sometimes, to have them lightened up with the application of a laser based treatment. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular skin concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician.

I also spoke to a couple of doctors off the record (hey not everyone wants to have their name quoted on an anonymous beauty blog, go figure.) and they both told me that based on their clinical experience there is no safe approved way to remove a mole by using a nonprescription cream. In fact, they were aghast at the notion of anyone attempting to remove moles themselves because moles can be pre-cancerous and need to be evaluated by a dermatologist. Melanoma is nothing to screw around with.

As I told Bluecatbaby in the Forum, unless this  ”mole removing” product is designed to kill vermin in your garden I would have nothing to do with it. If you really are concerned about getting rid of pigmented patches of skin please see a dermatologist first for your own safety.

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