Can You Freeze Off A Zit With An OTC Wart Remover?

I tried a little at-home cryogenic therapy on big red meanie that showed up on my chin.
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Publish date:
February 12, 2014
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How-To, acne, breakouts, zits, cryogenics, Compound W, wart removers

One awesome benefit to being a celeb with zits: you can chat with your agent on the phone while you roll in your chauffeured Escalade to the derm. When you get there, they probably give you some herbal tea and some awesome calming mask while your doctor speeds to the rescue in their Porsche coupe. They prob shoot some cortisone up in there or do this other little thingy that was done to me as a teen: cryotherapy.

Therapies using cold temperatures as treatment are considered cryotherapy. Cryotherapy has a few different methods, and they are used in varying ways to address a number of health problems. It can be used to freeze tissues to treat warts and other skin lesions.

As a kid, I got a plantar wart on my big toe. I had a super-cool foot doctor--a town legend. He explained to me as a kid that by directing the potent burst of sub-freezing liquid on the wart, it would kill the wart tissue, but leave healthy skin behind, when directed through a funnel. Then, at home, a small strip of salicylic acid was applied. Within a few weeks, it was gone and never came back!

My mom had a bad bout of adult acne in her 30s, and as a teen, I got to tag along and get treated for my own list of skin problems, namely eczema and acne. She would always come in with two styrofoam plastic cups, steaming from the liquid nitrogen soaked Q-tips hanging out of the top like a drink straw. She would use one for my mom and one for me. This was my favorite part because it felt scientific!

Cryotherapy can range from the application of an ice pack all the way to a hyperbaric chamber, and the tools for a bit of at-home cryotherapy are available at the pharmacy. OTC kits made to treat warts cost less than a specialist co-pay.

We can't all afford to run down to the dermatologist at the first sign of a pimple, so I grabbed a box of Compound W Freeze Off wart treatment and waited for my next big red meanie to show up. Two awesome zits showed up on my jawline the very next day! Aww, how sweet, my skin listens to me. (Grrrr.)

I squirted a wee bit of the frozen stuff onto the provided cotton swab, and applied it ONLY to the zit for a few seconds (roughly three). You must be careful when handling this product. The very cold temperatures are not good for healthy skin, and can kill healthy skin cells. Don’t EVER shoot anything from the can directly onto the skin, even if you are using it for it’s intended purpose.

Afterward, I toned my skin and applied a few drops of jojoba oil as a moisturizer, then a spritz of rosewater/glycerin.

I should also mention I did this after cleansing, and that you should avoid any masks/serums/treatments around the same time as trying this out. Masks with potentially irritating ingredients can cause the "frozen" spot to become damaged or discolored. Witch hazel makes a great gentle toner; I love the rose scented or cucumber scented from Thayers.

The verdict: this really did shrink my zit! It didn’t completely cure it, but it certainly helped.

I think that the cost and potential for mishaps makes this an emergency-only treatment. It would be helpful the day before a big event, but I would be careful about using it the same day as an event or photo shoot. If you over-freeze the zit, you will burn the skin, and it will peel and scab. A doctor or esthetician would be pissed at me for telling you to do that.

Make sure to avoid this if you are disaster prone, and follow all precautions on the box!