DIY kits are available to remove everything from earwax to skin tags. But which products are worth trying – and should you really treat yourself anyway? ADRIAN MONTI asked experts to review a range of kits; we then reviewed them.
Qimic Wireless Intelligent Visual Ear Cleaning Rod, £19.99, amazon.co.uk
CLAIM: The size of an electric toothbrush, it has a thin probe with a flexible silicone ear scoop on the tip that scoops out wax.
EXPERT VERDICT: “You naturally produce wax, an antibacterial substance, to prevent infection and moisturize the skin,” says Mark Edgar, an audiologist at the Hear Me London clinic.
“You shouldn’t put anything in your ear that could push wax in further or damage the eardrum. That includes cotton swabs, but also something like this probe.
“If you have a buildup of earwax, see an ear specialist to get it properly treated. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.’ 0/10
DIY kits are available to remove everything from earwax to skin tags. But which products are worth trying – and should you really treat yourself anyway?
WARTS AND VERRUCAS
Scholl full treatment pen for warts and warts, £14.99, boots.com
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Warts and verrucas – a wart on the sole of the foot – are caused by the human papillomavirus’ 5/10
CLAIM: A pen-shaped applicator dispenses a gel with blue dye (so it is not accidentally applied to healthy skin). The gel causes the skin to thicken and peel off, taking the wart or verruca with it.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Warts and verrucas – a wart on the sole of the foot – are caused by the human papillomavirus,’ says Dr Faisal Ali, dermatologist consultant at Spire Manchester and Regency Hospitals.
“It’s a good idea to remove them to prevent transmission to other areas — from your foot to your hand, for example — and spread to family members.” This pen uses trichloroacetic acid to burn the outer layers of the skin and kill the wart or verruca.
UK guidelines recommend salicylic acid as there is more evidence to support its use.
“As far as I know, trichloroacetic acid has not been compared to salicylic acid, so it’s not clear which is more effective.” 5/10
Bazuka Sub-Zero, £15.99, superdrug.com
CLAIM: After soaking the foot in warm water, drying and filing the infected area, hold the applicator against the wart or verruca and press to activate a freezing agent. The maker says the treatment “starts working from the first application.”
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘If left on, a plantar wart will eventually fall off, but people usually want them treated because they rub on shoes,’ says Matthew Fitzpatrick, a podiatrist consultant at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.
“Studies show that freezing (which causes a reaction in the cells of the wart or wart and damages its growth) has a cure rate of up to 70 percent after three or four treatments, so this is worth a try.” 8/10
Excilor skin tag removal patch, £17.49, lloydspharmacy.com
CLAIM: A lipstick-sized applicator places a sticky patch over the skin tag, cutting off the blood supply. In six days “it withers and falls off in plaster,” says its creator.
It should not be used on skin tags larger than 5mm in height or 3mm in diameter.
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘Skin tags are generally a benign overgrowth of the skin that becomes more common as we age, in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes,’ says Dr Ali.
‘This product could be effective – the principle of restricting blood flow makes sense. But as far as I know, it hasn’t gone through rigorous testing. My concern is treating a lesion that is actually skin cancer.’5/10
Ultrasonic Teeth Cleaner, £22, smileboutiques.co.uk
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘The best way to remove tartar is to go to a trained dental hygienist, who will use an ultrasonic cleaner with double or triple vibrations per minute’ 0/10
CLAIM: This is described as ‘using advanced vibration technology to deep clean teeth and remove plaque, stains or tartar in minutes’.
EXPERT VERDICT: “The best way to remove tartar is to go to a trained dental hygienist, who will use an ultrasonic cleaner with double or triple vibrations per minute than this device uses,” says Mayur Pandya, a dentist at Together Dental.
“For someone who is untrained, it’s almost madness to use this because of the damage it can cause, including broken fillings and lacerations to the tongue, cheeks and gums.” 0/10
Mole removal brush set, £23.99, amazon.co.uk
EXPERT VERDICT: ‘If you are over 35 and notice a new mole or lesion, or if an existing mole or lesion changes shape or color regardless of your age, you should have it evaluated by a dermatologist or GP’ 0/10
CLAIM: This portable rechargeable device says it can remove moles, freckles, blemishes and warts with a needle held against the skin. To do this, it uses “low temperature, high frequency carbon ionization technology.”
EXPERT VERDICT: “If you’re over 35 and notice a new mole or lesion, or if an existing mole or lesion changes shape or color, regardless of your age, you should get it evaluated by a dermatologist or GP,” says Dr. Hayley Leeman, a consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London.
“This device does not explain what carbon ionization is and there is no safety data to support its use. It is likely to be painful and there is also a high risk of burns.”0/10
Oravix Tonsil Stone Remover Kit, £12.99, oravix.com
CLAIM: Tonsil stones are a buildup of debris, including bacteria, cells, and food, in the crevices of the tonsils. The three-tool kit “removes tonsil stones easily and efficiently.”
EXPERT VERDICT: Mayur Pandya says, “Tonsil stones usually go unnoticed and work their way out on their own. They are more common in people with recurrent tonsillitis.
“I wouldn’t recommend using this. It’s madness to poke around in the soft tissue at the back of your throat where there are many blood vessels. A slip of the shovel or syringe can tear the tissue. Talk to your dentist if you are concerned.’ 1/10
LloydsPharmacy Corn & Callus Safety Knife, £2, lloydspharmacy.com
CLAIM: A contoured blade for “instant removal of corns and hard skin.” Washable and reusable.
EXPERT VERDICT: Matthew Fitzpatrick says: ‘The build-up of hard skin, which leads to the formation of corns, is quite common. It is the body’s way of protecting underlying tissues from damage.
“I’m not a fan of using a knife like that, because you can do damage if you go in too deep, leaving you susceptible to infection.” First of all try to use a foot file and creams to stop the development of hard skin.’ 4/10