Cryotherapy (Wart Removal)

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Warts that refuse to go away without treatment may need to be removed by a physician. One of the most popular methods of removing warts is cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy eliminates warts by freezing them with a very cold substance, usually liquid nitrogen. Icy crystals form inside the skin cells and as they multiply, they push through cell walls, destroying the live tissue. Freezing the wart kills the skin cells so they cannot continue to spread. With cryotherapy, it is possible to destroy both the wart and the virus that causes it to grow.

Reasons for treatment

It is not necessary to treat warts; however, warts pose a cosmetic concern and can lead to unsightly skin conditions. When they are located in a crevice of the skin, they can also cause irritation and limit range of motion.

Over-the-counter medications are sometimes successful at treating warts, but most people prefer aggressive treatment. Cryotherapy is a standard treatment for warts and can be performed in a brief office visit.

How cryotherapy (wart removal) is performed

Cryotherapy is a noninvasive treatment. The doctor begins by cleaning the wart and the skin around it; a numbing agent can be used to reduce pain. The liquid nitrogen can be applied with a cotton swab, a spray, or through a tube. The freezing is uncomfortable and might cause a stinging sensation, but it is not unbearable, and the paint is brief. The wart will begin to turn white; this is a sign that the skin cells are dying. A blister may also form at the site of the wart. It is important to leave the blister alone; it will heal within a week.

The entire process lasts about 15-20 minutes and recovery is rapid. Cryotherapy does not leave any scars; however, there may be some slight discoloration in the treated area. It may be necessary to repeat treatment to ensure that the wart does not return.

It is important to follow-up with your physician to monitor regrowth of the wart and address any complications that may arise from treatment.

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