Cryotherapy For Warts And Verrucas
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a method of freezing living tissue using a refrigerant sprayed onto the skin in an aerosol manner or as a liquid within a probe that is placed on the tissue.
It is a great way to penetrate the underlying skin structure (epidermis and dermis) to quickly freeze the lesion such as warts and skin tags.
Freezing living tissue causes the water in the cells to expand and burst open thus destroying the cells and any viruses within them along the way.
Warts and verrucas are essentially the same. When referring to verrucas, we generally mean warts on the feet. The only reason they look different from those on the hands or other parts of the body is because walking on them causes them to flatten out.
Both are are caused by the HPV virus (human papilloma virus) which come in several forms, and each one can be just as tricky to get rid of.
Why Use Cryotherapy for Warts and Verrucas?
The main reason to use cryotherapy for warts is that it is fast acting, penetrates quickly and kills the HPV virus instantly.
Caustic methods such as painting on salacylic acid can be much messier and take much longer to treat effectively. They also can attack the good surrounding skin as well as the lesion and while they may not be as painful they are more indiscriminate in their use.
The downside with cryotherapy is that it can be quite painful initially and quite awkward to target the area precisely enough to get a good freeze.
In fact it is quite difficult For a Chiropodist/Podiatrist to get an effective freeze depending on the method and equipment used. I sometimes spray the refrigerant into a cup like funnel which is placed on the skin and liquefies bubbling away on the surface until the liquid has evaporated and a nice white plume of frozen skin appears.
Other methods include spraying the liquid into a semi-compressed wool felt stuck on the skin which retains the liquid cryogen slowly releasing its cold temperature onto the skin again until it has evaporated. Both these methods use and -50°C refrigerant.
However, another even more severe treatment can be obtained by using -200°C liquid nitrogen probe. The probe is filled with the liquid nitrogen and this is then placed on the lesion.
There are also some aerosol treatments that use -200 liquid nitrogen in small canisters and indeed some over-the-counter treatments use small foam pad into which the liquid is sprayed such as Wartner.
There are several counter products that you can use when freezing warts and verrucas but I would only recommend these if treating small verrucas on the feet. It often takes a qualified medical professional to first diagnose what you are going to freeze before you go ahead with any treatment.
Cryotherapy For Warts – Wartner Cryopharma
Here is what WebMD has to say about cryotherapy for warts.
“In cryotherapy, very cold liquid such as nitrogen is sprayed on to the wart to freeze and destroy the cells. A sore blister develops, followed by a scab, which falls off seven to 10 days later.
Treatment usually takes between five and 15 minutes and can be painful, so you might need a local anaesthetic beforehand.
Cryotherapy treatment is usually carried out at hospital skin clinics, or at your GP surgery. Large warts sometimes need to be frozen several times, a week or so apart, before they clear.
If you have a wart on your face, your GP may recommend cryotherapy treatment because the risk of irritation is lower than using salicylic acid or duct tape.
A very cold spray (dimethyl-ether/propane) is also available from pharmacies, which you can apply yourself. Do not use this spray on your face.” Read more here
Pros and Cons of Verruca Freezing
- Fast acting
- Relatively cheap and easy to use
- Can be painful
- Refrigerant needs targeting
Cryotherapy Side Effects
There are side effects when using a cryotherapy verruca treatment. As mentioned earlier, one is pain. Some people depending on their pain threshold can find this more than just a nasty sting. It also depends on the practitioner, method of application and length of verruca freeze.
Often if no pain is felt at all it may be that the freeze simply has not penetrated deep enough. A tell-tale sign is often a white plume of frozen skin to show that the tissue has iced over.
The second side effect of cryotherapy is blistering. Because the tissue is being frozen so deeply it will often blister forming a bubble of hard skin filled with fluid. If this happens it is important not to burst the blister and leave an entry point for infection.
In my experience the blistering is often a good sign to show a deep enough treatment has been given and that the longer term results will be positive.
If you decide to use a cryotherapy wart treatment it is always essential for you to follow the cryotherapy guidelines given out by the manufacturer. I was always highly recommend you visit a chiropodist or podiatrist prior to treatment to diagnose what you are treating.