Freeze Off Wart Removers Linked to Burn, Fire Risk: FDA Warns

Federal health officials are warning consumers about the potential risk of fires and severe burns from freeze off wart removers, also known as cryogenic wart removers.

The FDA issued a warn remover warning last week, indicating that over-the-counter (OTC) cryogenic wart removers have been linked to more than a dozen injury reports. However, no specific brand name products were identified in connection with the burns.

Dr. Scholl’s Freeze Away Wart Remover, Compound W Freeze Off, and Wartner Cryogenic Wart Removal System are among widely used brands of over-the-counter products that contain a mixture of liquid dimethyl ether and propane, which are highly flammable substances.

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Cryogenic products work by freezing warts from the skin. However, at least 14 people have reported to federal health officials that they experienced burns, singed hair or skin redness after using the products.

According to the FDA warning, the canisters caught fire in some cases during use, injuring consumers and causing property damage in several instances. At least three patients reported a candle nearby contributed to the incidents, but 11 of the reports found no ignition source was involved. In the reports, the dispenser typically caught fire when the mixture was released from its pressurized canister.

“This is extremely concerning, especially because people may not be aware that everyday household items like curling irons and straight irons can be hot enough to be an ignition source for these products,” said Karen Nast, RN and FDA Nurse Consultant, in the FDA statement.

Wart Removers Considered Medical Devices

The FDA has regulated wart removers as a medical device since 2009. The products come with specific use instructions because of the high level of flammability and the types of chemicals involved.

Consumers are instructed to saturate an applicator with the mixture, which is cooled to -40 degrees Celsius. They should then press the applicator to the wart for a specified amount of time.

Warts are growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. An average of three to four applications are required for full effectiveness. Calloused skin may take more treatments.

Warts may often disappear on their own without a cryogenic treatment, but may take some time. The FDA advises consumers to contact health care professionals to determine if a cryogenic treatment is necessary.

Professional treatments may include, surgical paring, laser or liquid nitrogen cryosurgical treatments. This offers consumers wart treatments performed by a trained medical professional in a safe office setting.

Other OTC treatments which may also be alternatives to the cryogenic treatment include topical applications of salicylic acid. This will soften the skin and loosen warts so they fall off or can be easily removed.

Health officials recommend consumers use the products only as directed. Consumers are cautioned to use it in a well-ventilated area, away from flames or other heat sources.

Consumers should also take care to carefully dispose of empty containers, if punctured or exposed to heat they may explode and cause severe injuries.

The report warns these types of events are often under reported to the correct authorities. The FDA encourages consumers to report all types of events and injuries.


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