Latest warning from Food and Drug Administration: Some wart removal products can catch on fire.(Photo: Alison Young, USA TODAY)
Kim Painter, Special for USA TODAY
More than a dozen consumers have accidentally started fires, burning themselves or objects in their homes, while using one kind of wart removal product, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.
The products, which work by freezing off warts, contain a mixture of liquid dimethyl ether and propane. Labels warn that they are flammable and should be kept away from fire, cigarettes and other heat sources.
Despite the labeling, 14 users have reported fires and 10 of those people hurt themselves, suffering singed hair, blisters, burns or skin rashes, FDA nurse consultant Karen Nast says in an online update for consumers. In most cases, the fires started when consumers were releasing the products from their pressurized canisters
In three cases, a candle was nearby, but in the rest, no heat source was identified. "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," Nast says.
FDA did not name brands involved in the incidents, reported since 2009, but products containing the ingredients include Dr. Scholl's Freeze Away Wart Remover, Compound W Freeze Off and Wartner Cryogenic Wart Removal System . Generic and store brands also are sold.
The home freezing products "are usually safe and sometimes effective, but you don't want to try this stuff on a wart while you got a cigar or cigarette in your mouth," says Stephen Stone, a professor of dermatology at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. "You've got to use some common sense."
Other home remedies include drugstore products containing salicylic acid. Some people try using duct tape to peel away warts, layer by layer, and Stone says that's not a bad idea "for those who prefer a more natural approach." The American Academy of Dermatology says studies conflict on whether duct tape is effective.
Stone says many warts will go away on their own, and he often recommends just waiting, especially for children.
For more persistent or bothersome warts, it's best to see a doctor, who can offer a number of removal techniques, the dermatology group says. Doctors also say people with diabetes should never try to self-treat warts on their feet and that no one should self-treat warts on the face or genitals or treat any skin growth that might be something other than a wart .