Kinder, Gentler Wart Removal

Freezing off a wart can be painful for kids. But a dermatologist says that topical anesthetic cream, applied 10 seconds after liquid nitrogen is used to "freeze off" the wart, immediately cuts the pain.

Kimberly Butterwick, M.D., a member of the American Society of Dermatology Surgery, says that without the cream, kids experience stinging for up to a minute and discomfort for up to half an hour. Butterwick's method is a departure from the usual procedure, in which creams are applied half an hour in advance, yet still don't seem to make wart removal less painful. Butterwick applies the liquid nitrogen while the child counts for 5 to 10 seconds, then applies the cream to quickly stop the sting.

"I find that if children count out loud, they can tolerate the stinging because they know when it will end," she says. "It's really a nice, easy, immediate relief."

The creams are readily available and can be used on anyone who isn't allergic to local anesthetic. Warts, if left untreated, can sometimes spread and enlarge, so ask your doctor about any that last longer than three months.

- Christina Elston

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