May 17, 2018
Statement on the use of Borax as a home remedy for lichen sclerosus
Updated 3rd February 2020
Borax (also known as sodium tetraborate) is a salt of boric acid. It is generally used as an insecticide and can be found in household products such as washing powder. It is not intended for use on the skin or to be ingested. Repeat or prolonged excessive exposure to the skin may result in irritation in some people.
We understand that some users may find relief from applying Borax preparations to affected areas. However, unlike licensed medicines, it has not been subject to any testing and there are no safety data for its use. This means that we do not know the short or long term risks of using Borax on the skin.
For this reason, we do not recommend that patients with lichen sclerosus apply it to the skin nor ingest it. Instead, they should see their doctor or dermatologist for further advice. Lichen sclerosus carries a small risk of developing vulval cancer and therefore, needs to be managed and monitored by a medical professional. Treatment for lichen sclerosus should only be discontinued on the advice of a doctor.
The British Association of Dermatologists understands the fears, pressures and concerns which can drive people to try cheaper and unusual alternatives. However, we advise against use of experimental and untried treatments unless this is part of an ethically approved research project, as there may be serious risks. The use of steroid ointments under the supervision of an experienced dermatologist has been shown to have very little risk of any side effects and helps most people.