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OTC Wart Remover Fire Warning

Tim Boyer's picture
OTC Wart Remover

A new warning reported by the April issue of Consumer Reports on Heath warns shoppers that using an OTC (over-the-counter) cryogenic style wart remover for removing warts off of your body can be a fire hazard. This news originates from an update by the FDA that reported that since 2009 there have been at least 14 reported cases of wart remover combustion while using a pressurized canister that freezes warts off.

Warts are an overgrowth of the upper skin layers caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Common skin warts are considered to be benign, but can spread to other parts of the body and to other people. Health authorities tell us that one reason why warts are so common on the hands is because we touch so many more things with this part of the body than anything else.

A wart develops in the skin typically through a break in the skin that allows the HPV virus to enter and begin the infection process. Infection can enter and spread from any number of sources including keyboards, doorknobs, gas pump handles, and even shaking hands with someone. Trying to determine who or what was the source of your wart is nearly impossible as the wart may not appear until months after the infection.

The safest method for removing a wart is by seeking help from a medical professional who is trained in proper wart removal using either surgical removal, laser removal or cryogenic removal with liquid nitrogen.

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There are a number of OTC methods that you can do at home that work almost equally as well. One example is a topical application of a salicylic acid, which softens and loosens warts so that they eventually fall off. However, one of the more-used OTC methods resembles the liquid cryogenic method seen in a medical office that involves a pressurized canister containing a mixture of liquid dimethyl ether and propane.

This OTC canister wart remover works by dispensing the canister’s contents onto an applicator tip which freezes the tip to a temperature of approximately -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit). The applicator is then quickly pressed against the wart and thereby damages the infected skin while presumably killing off the virus in the infected tissue as well. The damaged skin will slough off as new skin is built underneath the treated wart.

Unfortunately, however, the OTC canister method poses some risk, of which not all combustion cases have been attributed to exposure to an open flame. Of the 14 cases reported, only 3 were linked to an open flame whereas the remaining 11 cases were not identified as being due to exposure to a nearby ignition source. Ten of the cases resulted in either redness to the skin, blistering, burns or singing of hair.

Health authorities warn users of the OTC cryogenic type wart remover that the instructions on the packaging and canister must be followed closely. Any pressurized canister in the home such as wart removers, disposable lighters, hair sprays, etc. must be kept away from potential ignition sources during use such as lit candles, hot stove tops, curling irons, straight irons and smoking cigarettes.

For an informative article about warts and the HPV virus, click-on the titled link, “Why You Should See Your Dentist About Oral Sex.”

Image Source: Wikipedia
Reference: Consumer Reports on Health April 2014 issue