Cryotherapy is a very common and popular treatment in dermatology used for a variety of dermatological conditions. It is a treatment that causes freezing of a surface or lesion with as subsequent result destruction of the lesion secondary to the freezing effects. Cryotherapy uses cryogen which is a freezing agent and the commonest type is liquid nitrogen which has a temperature of – 196⁰ Celsius. Liquid nitrogen is usually stored in specific cannisters and is applied through a flask. Cryotherapy s popular because it is relatively inexpensive, effective and freezing can get rid of a number of unwanted lesions. The procedure takes less than a minute and is mildly painful but in general safe. There can be some residual blistering and redness for few days but in most cases the recovery is without sequelae.
Cryotherapy is widely used in dermatology for warts, actinic keratoses, seborrheic keratoses, and molluscum contagiosum. There are few other uncommon dermatological conditions which can be treated by cryotherapy. Depending on the lesion being treated the required number of treatment sessions varies.
Warts are common skin lesions that result from a viral infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are many different types of the virus and many different clinical forms of warts. Warts are also called verruca and these terms are interchangeable. There are different types of warts such as common warts, plantar wart (on the soles of the feet), Plane warts (flat topped), filiform warts (spiky), and mucosal warts (in the inner lips or nostrils). Cryotherapy is commonly used in the treatment of warts and can be highly effective in the thin and small warts in particular.
Actinic keratoses are red and scaly lesions on sun-exposed areas of the skin that appear particularly in fair-skinned individuals with excessive sun exposures. They are indicative of sun damage and cryotherapy is particularly useful in small isolated lesions. In some cases, cryotherapy can be combined with other treatments.
Seborrheic keratoses are common warty lesions that are not related to viral warts and typically appear in individuals over the age of 30. Cryotherapy is a very good treatment particularly for multiple lesions and has a high degree of success.