Warts will generally go away without treatment, but that can take a long time. If your warts are unsightly or painful, you probably want them to vanish quickly. For many individuals, freezing a wart is a common way to quickly rid themselves of the ugly growths. Is that a good solution for you? If so, do you have to consult a specialist for the process? When you look in your pharmacy, there’s a selection of freeze wart products. Can you really get rid of your warts with over-the-counter products? Keep reading for answers to your questions.
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Freezing Off a Wart
Freezing off a wart involves a lot more than exposing your body to ice. Extreme cold will kill human tissue, and you want to avoid damaging healthy tissue. The techniques for freezing a wart involve applying an icy substance directly on the wart. Because warts are tough-skinned, it can take more than one treatment over a period of time.
When tissue is frozen, ice crystals form inside the cells. The ice crystals have sharp edges, which rupture the walls of the cells. The cells are not able to survive the destruction and quickly die. Freezing a wart takes advantage of that destructive process to kill the growth. As well as killing the wart tissue, freezing can also destroy the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the wart.
Three Ways to Freeze
If you go to a skin specialist, such as a board-certified dermatologist, he or she will probably use liquid nitrogen to freeze off your wart. The liquid nitrogen is usually in a spray can with a nozzle. A professional can direct the spray so that it touches only the wart. The temperature of liquid nitrogen is 321 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, so it freezes wart tissue very quickly.
Depending on factors like your overall health condition and kind of warts you have and where they’re located, a professional may choose carbon dioxide for wart removal. Carbon dioxide is often called “snow” because of its appearance. It’s mixed with a solvent to form a slush that’s applied directly on a wart.
Frozen carbon dioxide is commonly called dry ice. The temperature of dry ice is 109 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, which can burn your skin in a matter of seconds. You can try using it to freeze off your warts at home, but you must be extremely careful. You can easily destroy healthy tissue with dry ice and cause permanent damage. If you choose to try dry ice, use only a tiny chip. Protect your hands and don’t allow it to touch your skin. Avoid breathing the fumes. Wrap the chip in something like a thick towel and very carefully press it briefly against your wart.
If you’re going to remove your warts at home, you have several products to choose from. The over-the-counter freeze wart treatments are usually a mixture of dimethyl ether and propane. Most are labeled with the acronym DMEP. The mixture cools to a temperature of 42 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, which can destroy warts. It’s usually applied directly on the wart with a provided applicator. Most products are packaged and applied in ways that help you avoid damaging healthy skin. You can find directions for using wart freeze spray here.
Why Treat Warts
If warts will go away on their own if you’re patient, why should you bother with treatments that are potentially expensive or painful?
Treatment is a personal decision, but reasons for treatment include:
- Warts are infectious,
- Warts can be embarrassing,
- Warts are easily irritated and can bleed,
- Warts can be painful.
Treating warts can help keep the underlying virus from spreading and causing warts on other parts of your body or to other members of your household.
Can I Freeze Off Plantar Warts?
Plantar warts grow on your feet and toes. They are usually quite painful and can affect your ability to walk. Plantar warts can be frozen off in the same way that other warts are. The healing time can take longer and can be more painful than it is with other warts. It’s not unusual to experience swelling of your feet after plantar wart removal.
Because foot problems can seriously affect your mobility, it’s a good idea to let a professional freeze off your plantar warts. There are, however, over-the-counter products specially formulated for plantar wart removal. If you have poor circulation, it’s best to consult with a professional to minimize the risk of infection.
Signs of an infection include:
- Increasing pain,
- Red streaks radiating outward,
- Skin that feels hot,
Seek medical attention as quickly as you can if you develop any of these symptoms.
Plantar warts are often covered by a callus, which can necessitate more removal treatments than most other warts. Freezing a plantar wart can often lead to minor scarring. The scar may fade over time.
Can I Freeze Warts Off My Face?
Facial skin is very sensitive and is easily scarred. If you follow the instructions very carefully on over-the-counter wart freezing products, you can use one on your face. In general, it’s a better idea to consult a skin specialist.
After-care is especially important to prevent scarring. You may not be able to use cosmetics until your skin heals. It’s also a good idea to avoid excessive sunshine until you’re completely healed.
Four Varieties of Warts
- The warts that usually appear on your hands are common warts. They can spread to other parts of your body when you touch your skin.
- Plantar warts grow on your feet. The pressure from walking often forces the wart to grow inward. Several can accumulate in one place and look like one large wart. Those are called mosaic warts.
- Warts that can be mistaken for freckles or sun spots grow on your face, neck, and other exposed areas. These are flat warts and are easily irritated.
- Genital warts infect the genitalia of sexually active adults and sexually abused children. They are often called HPV warts or venereal warts.
What Do I Use to Freeze Warts at Home?
The combination of dimethyl ether and propane in over-the-counter wart freeze removal products has been approved by the FDA. It usually takes more than a week before the wart is gone. If it doesn’t disappear within that time, you may use the product again, but not more than three times total, unless the instructions say otherwise.
You cannot use most of the over-the-counter products on children younger than four years. There are products made for children, but these are usually natural treatments rather than wart freeze products.
Adults who should not freeze off warts at home include:
- Individuals with diabetes,
- Individuals with poor circulation,
- Women who are breastfeeding,
- Women who are pregnant.
Individuals taking any medications should consult their doctor before trying an at-home wart removal treatment. You’ll find tips on using silver nitrate for warts here.
Is There a Wart Freezing Kit?
Freezing off a wart requires more than one step. Because each step must be done correctly, over-the-counter remedies are often provided in a kit. A wart-freezing kit will have everything that’s needed to use the product correctly and safely.
There are various formulations and brands available so that you can choose the product that best meets your needs. It’s important that you follow all the instructions.
I Need a Wart Removal Kit
Although most wart removal kits contain products for freezing warts, you can purchase kits that use other methods. For example, there are products meant to remove genital warts, as your genitalia are too sensitive to freeze. Read the label on any kit you choose to make sure it truly contains everything needed.
When you buy any product for treating your warts, read the ingredient list. Make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the ingredients. Check also that everything included in the kit has been approved by the FDA for medical use. There’s information here on using freeze away wart remover.
After the Freeze
Tissue cells are killed wherever the freezing agent is applied. Because of how quickly the icy cold works, the actual freezing usually doesn’t hurt too much. Thawing can be painful. If your warts are large or if you have lots of them, a professional may inject a local anesthetic to minimize pain. Over-the-counter products usually cause only minor discomfort.
The dead wart will eventually fall off after freezing. Regardless of how carefully the freezing was done, there is always damage to a small amount of healthy tissue around the wart. The area in and around where the wart was may turn red or feel irritated. Usually, a blister will form within a few hours. It may be filled with clear fluid or filled with blood. In either case, leave it alone. The fluid in the blister can infect healthy skin with more warts.
The blister will break on its own within a week or so.
Care for your blister as follows:
- Keep the area clean and dry.
- Cover the blister with a bandage.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment after the blister breaks.
- Keep the area covered with a bandage.
Seek medical attention if you experience any symptom of infection.
Rather than a blister, some individuals develop a scab or a crust. Treat either the same way you treat the blister. Cryotherapy normally doesn’t leave a scar, although the treated area may be a lighter color for up to several months. Picking at a blister or scab can lead to scarring.
If your wart is particularly large, you may need to undergo more than one freeze treatment. Your health care professional can evaluate the need for additional treatments. If you are using an over-the-counter product, don’t apply it more often than the instructions recommend. If it doesn’t eliminate your warts by then, you will probably need to consult a specialist for more aggressive treatment.
Freezing is one of the most common ways of eliminating a wart. Wart freeze can be painful, but it’s also fast and effective. There’s a variety of over-the-counter products available, some of which are quite economical. All warts are caused by a virus. Removing the wart does not kill the virus. There is no method of wart removal that guarantees that you won’t develop more warts, sometimes in the same spots from which previous warts were removed. Only your immune system can suppress the virus.