Understanding cryotherapy and its contribution to modern dermatological treatments


In the modern age where medical advancements provide cutting-edge treatment protocols, cryotherapy plays an important role.

What is cryotherapy?

“Cryo” is translated from Greek meaning cold, and “therapy” refers to treatment. Thus, cryotherapy harnesses low temperatures to treat certain conditions. Cryotherapy is a way of freezing irregularities off the skin, using liquid nitrogen.

How is it used?

It is used by a number of medical specialists, especially those addressing nerve pain and skin problems – like dermatologists. In dermatology, cryotherapy is used to treat:

  • Actinic keratoses
  • Viral warts
  • Seborrhoeic keratoses (senile warts)
  • Superficial basal cell
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (intraepidermal carcinoma)

A proper diagnosis has to be made prior to any treatment. Most importantly, this treatment is not used for any type of melanoma. For the carcinomas we mentioned above, a follow up is vital, as it is not always successful at the first attempt.

How is cryotherapy administered?

The procedure is fairly quick and painless. Dr Khoza will dab a tiny amount of liquid nitrogen onto the lesion or wart using a cotton bud, for 10 – 20 seconds, depending on the size of the lesion. The procedure is performed in the consulting rooms and requires no downtime. It is very important to pay close attention to the healing process. Make sure there are no signs of infection. If the area becomes red or looks inflamed, call Dr Khoza immediately.

Cryotherapy delivers results

Cryotherapy is often delivered a number of times before the full effect is achieved. Conditions like actinic keratosis, seborrhoeic keratosis, or viral warts may disappear without a trace after a series of treatments. That said, any medical procedure comes with some risk, however minor, to go with the benefits.

The risks of cryotherapy

The main concern associated with cryotherapy is a secondary infection or lack of healing following the procedure. If the wound becomes infected, we may prescribe oral antibiotics to counter it. Other possible side effects include:

  • Nerve damage to the local area (temporary)
  • Scarring and hypopigmentation
  • Slowed healing process
  • Skin lesions that reoccur

Overall, the way in which cryotherapy easily removes warts and skin growths makes it a worthwhile treatment. The risk of side effects is low and recovery is straightforward. The results are positive. If you wish to enquire about this treatment, please book a consult with us: 031 581 2543.