Is freezing warts off with a computer duster a really stupid idea?
August 19, 2011 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Is freezing warts off with a computer duster a really stupid idea?

My doctor buddy is happy to freeze my warts* off if I buy a $350 Histofreezer, which she's used before. I have insurance, but in the time it would take me to make an appointment with my primary physician, get a derm referral, make a derm appointment, and have 'em frozen, I could be freezing off the warts I missed in my first and second home-administered cryotherapies!

But yeah, $350 is a lot of money. I see Dr. Scholl's cryo-treatments in the drugstore that cost a mere $20 (like Histofreezer, it's a mix of dimethyl ether and propane). And I see the aforementioned Instructable that would cost me less than half that price.

What's the difference between all these? Cold is cold, right?

* Yeah, those kinds of warts. Why do you think I'm posting anonymously?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cold may be cold, but it's usually best to have a professional do any work that is on or near your junk.

Just saying.
posted by inturnaround at 2:25 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Those kind of warts? This is what Planned Parenthood does, cheaply, quickly, and easily (and, uh, safely).
posted by booknerd at 2:29 PM on August 19, 2011 [12 favorites]

I've used the Dr Scholl's product and it works pretty well and is next to fool-proof. About the only thing that would go wrong is not getting the little sponge cold enough. But it's the little application sponges that make the diff versus using a can of dust-off.

Is $10 really a big deal here? Maybe go with the approved product.
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on August 19, 2011

And the Dr Scholl's product is for warts on hands or plantar warts on feet. I dunno what "those" are.
posted by GuyZero at 2:31 PM on August 19, 2011

I wouldn't say stupid, but I think you should go to a clinic/see a doctor.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 2:32 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well I'll tell you my story, when I was probably ten or so a friend was over at my house and we were playing around in the study and he found the computer duster. I'm not certain but I imagine that most computer dusters work the way this one did, you can only activate the corrosive bits by tilting or reversing the can; my friend didn't realize this and sprayed me full in the face with the can upright. I got nothing but compressed air in the face, we thought it was funny. He sprayed me again, this time on the side (I wasn't wearing a shirt), but in order to reach my side from where he was standing he had to bend his arm and ended up tilting the can onto its side and I've still got the burn mark on me now. Spend the extra money, you only get the one skin.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:32 PM on August 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

If it's those kind of warts, I'm spending the $350 to have the professional do it. Your [insert genitalia type here] is worth it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

IIRC, freezing warts doesn't 'kill' the wart so much as make sure that the skin around it dies so it can't get blood supply which eventually kills the wart. That knowledge might make you think twice about freezing parts of your downstairs. Either use something approved for that use over the counter (if it says DO NOT use on genitals, then don't!)

Please don't spray a computer duster at your junk when you could go to Planned Parenthood or get approved over the counter medicine.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Uh, yeah. When you need work done on your sensitive bits, it's not time to DIY or go cheap. $350 is nothing if it avoids a lifetime of having to explain awkward scars or serious pain.
posted by Hylas at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

i.e. don't become a Darwin Award.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've used those Dr Scholl's $20 freezer-thingies from CVS, although only on my hands and feet. The first few times I used it, I was not nearly aggressive enough with holding it in place. You definitely need to hold it in place for a good 5-10 seconds and it should feel like burning the whole time, or it's not really working. When I finally did it right, the warts were gone in a few days. Much, much more effective (and far less expensive) than the acid-based wart removers or rx creams I'd been given in the past.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:33 PM on August 19, 2011

I went in to a doctor to remove a wart from the back of my hand. He had a dewar of liquid N2 and a q-tip along with a styrofoam cup. He poured some N2 into the cup and applied it using the qtip. I will never go in for a wart removal again becasue I can get N2 from the lab by the liter and just so happen to have some qtips at home. They just made sure to get it good and frostbitten and it works fine. I would see if you can get ahold of some liquid N2 and just do it yourself.

I understand that it might be odd and very fresh but it would be simpler and it would work well.
posted by koolkat at 2:34 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

For the record... unless the product specifically says you can use it on your genitals, the answer is you can't.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:35 PM on August 19, 2011 [15 favorites]

See a doctor, or as someone already said, Planned Parenthood. "Those kind of warts" are sexually transmitted and can develop into a pre-cancerous condition in women. This is not a gift you want to give your girlfriend. Daughter of a friend has been through hell with this, and is probably now infertile as a result.
posted by mermayd at 2:35 PM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Also, FWIW, my GP has used the liquid nitrogen freezer in an appointment. You may not need to see a dermatologist to get a wart frozen.
posted by GuyZero at 2:36 PM on August 19, 2011

Don't even use stuff that's intended for wart removal on those warts.


Additionally, I also number among the people who have burned themselves quite badly playing around with that compressed-air stuff. So even if it wasn't an otherwise bad idea, I'd say not to play around with it lightly. But it is an otherwise bad idea.
posted by penduluum at 2:37 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

It will get cold enough, as I have removed dents from my car with the stuff, but warts on my junk sounds like a little different. I would have my friend the doctor use the N2 stuff with the q-tip or go to planned parenthood. But, skin is skin (sort of) and if it works on your hand it will work on there albeit maybe with more sensitivity.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:48 PM on August 19, 2011

In addition to the above warnings, I can't imagine* how you would be able to see the warts well enough to aim at them with enough accuracy to kill only the wart and not the surrounding skin. Unless maybe you have a significant other who wouldn't mind performing this procedure on you, in which case, you are more loved than I.

* Actually, I CAN imagine it, and now I need mind bleach.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:50 PM on August 19, 2011

Please go to Planned Parenthood or to a clinic. I burned myself playing around with a duster can; luckily it was just on the back of my hand and not, y'know, my junk.

Just because it's still cold, doesn't mean the contents are approved or even safe for this kind of use.
posted by xedrik at 3:17 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Young, old, tall, short, warty, not warty, everyone is welcome at Planned Parenthood! Go there for sure. It'll be much less expensive than any work needed later if you do indeed burn or disfigure your genitals because you were trying to save a little money. Ow.
posted by but no cigar at 3:33 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you really must use the computer duster, aim it at a Q-tip, and use that to apply the cold to the offending tissue. Aiming the duster at yourself is going to add to your troubles, not solve them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:52 PM on August 19, 2011

I have a friend who, thanks to his job, enjoyed access to liquid nitrogen. He used some to remove a regular ol' wart off his hand and reported to me that is was really, really painful. Let me join the chorus that suggests you let a pro handle your sensitive parts.
posted by jquinby at 4:14 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Go to a health center! Call around, don't mess around.

(And the warts don't lead to cancer. Those are different strains of HPV entirely.)
posted by c'mon sea legs at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Original poster has a "doctor buddy" to do the procedure.
posted by aniola at 4:59 PM on August 19, 2011

My son had a bunch of warts, and he also gave some to my wife. We went to a professional and tried freezing monthly (liquid nitrogen) for over a half year. Some came off right away. Those that did filled up with blood underneath first. We ended up switching to cream, and got rid of the rest that way.

To deal with my wife's warts, we tried an over-the-counter freezing product. Following the instructions, we had no effect. Being aggressive with the product (freezing longer than directed) worked on the first try. They filled up with blood first.

So it seems (to us) like that any freezing works, but requires some pain.

But get a diagnosis. Just cause it looks like a wart doesn't mean it is a wart. And for all I know, genital warts could be completely unrelated to the kind of warts I'm talking about.

Don't use the computer duster. Freezing (and creams, for that matter) work by wounding you. Then your body responds to the wounds. You don't want to intentionally wound yourself with something that may be toxic or have some other undesirable effects.
posted by BurnChao at 5:12 PM on August 19, 2011

I'd take the extra time and money to ensure that it's a wart and not something else before I started letting a doctor go at my genitals with any kind of anything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:48 PM on August 19, 2011

Do it.

What's the worst that could happen.

...oh, right.
posted by carlh at 7:21 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm sitting here with my doctor buddy who thinks your pain reaction would prevent you continuing the freeze long enough for it to be effective.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:28 AM on August 20, 2011

I had warts frozen on the sole of my foot and it was so painful I thrashed and swore for the entire time. Hurt worse than labor. (Not more, really. . . just worse.) And that was my FOOT.
posted by KathrynT at 12:43 AM on August 20, 2011

Hit post too soon! My point is: go to Planned Parenthood or pony up the $350. Because either you will do it wrong, or it will hurt so much that you will do it wrong.
posted by KathrynT at 12:44 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seriously, go to a dermatologist. But do you really need people on the internets to tell you that?
posted by radioamy at 8:11 AM on August 20, 2011

Anecdata--my friend who is a pathologist one day got the idea to save a few copays and do it for the whole family with some liquid nitrogen. No big deal.

Before you say "he's a doctor," trust me, pathologists do not do clinical medicine. They do have good motor skills, though.

Doing it to yourself might be a little dicey, but I frankly don't think it's so crazy to have a friend with steady hands (and access to liquid nitrogen) do it to you.
posted by skbw at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2011

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