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What is cryotherapy?

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

The term ‘cryotherapy’ literally means ‘treatment using low temperature’, and refers to the removal of some skin lesions by freezing them. This can include the removal of warts and verrucae. The most common product used by the Chiropodist is liquid nitrogen. Chiropodist at Whelehans James Pedley is holding a Cryotherapy Clinic at Whelehans Pharmacy on Saturday May 30thand will treat warts and verrucae. James provided me with the information for this article and we reference the British association of Dermatologists.

What is liquid nitrogen?
Liquid nitrogen is the liquid state of gaseous nitrogen, which occupies 78% of the air we breathe. Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold, boiling at minus 196°c. It is necessary to store and transport it in special flasks.

What conditions can be treated with cryotherapy?
A wide variety of superficial benign (non-cancerous) lesions can be treated with cryotherapy.


What does the procedure involve?
Cryotherapy is done during the course of a consultation with your Chiropodist, without any special preparation. Liquid nitrogen is usually applied to the skin by using a spray gun or a metal probe. A cotton bud can sometimes be used instead.

Although there is slight local pain felt, cryotherapy does not normally require a local anaesthetic, and the procedure itself lasts a matter of seconds; the precise time depending on the thickness and size of the lesion. The frozen skin becomes white and takes one to two minutes to thaw to normal skin temperature. Your Chiropodist may suggest that the process is repeated once the skin has thawed out.

Over the following days, a scab will form, and this will take one to two weeks (and occasionally a little longer, especially on the legs) to fall off. Usually, the treated area will eventually look normal, although slight scarring and discolouration is possible, particularly on the legs. Depending on the type and size of the wart or verruca, more than one treatment may be necessary, and this is usually repeated at regular intervals.

How should the treated area be cared for?
Your Chiropodist will explain how s/he would like you to care for the treated areas. It is important not to pick at the scab as this will encourage scarring. A dressing or plaster is not usually necessary, but may be advisable if the treated area is likely to be knocked or rubbed by clothing.

What are the side effects of this treatment?
Immediate side effects:
Pain - cryotherapy is usually well-tolerated, but can sometimes cause slight pain if a deep freeze has been used. This discomfort can occur both at the time of treatment and for a variable time thereafter. Painkillers (such as paracetamol) taken for the first 24 hours may relieve that discomfort; also taking a painkiller an hour or so prior to anticipated treatment can reduce the discomfort.

Swelling and redness - this is a normal immediate response to freezing the skin, and usually settles after two to three days. For a short while the treated area may ooze a little watery fluid.

Blistering - this is also a common consequence of cryotherapy and blisters settle after a few days as the scab forms. Some people blister more easily than others and the development of blisters does not necessarily mean that the skin has been frozen too much. Occasionally the blisters may become filled with blood; this is harmless and only if a blister was very uncomfortable would it be necessary to puncture it, using a sterile needle. It is best not to puncture it yourself.

Infection - uncommonly, infection can occur, resulting in increased pain and the formation of pus: this may require topical antiseptic or antibiotic therapy.

Subsequent side effects:
Scarring - rarely, a slight scar will form, especially if a deep freeze has been used.


Pigmentation changes - the skin at and around the treatment site may lighten or darken in colour slightly, especially in dark skinned patients.


Treatment may not be effective with all patients or the condition may recur if the infection is reintroduced by recurrent cross infection. Your Chiropodist will advise you at the time of treatment. 



More about warts and verruca


Warts are flesh coloured areas of raised, rough and hardened skin. They are caused by a virus called the human papilloma virus. The virus causes a tough shell of abnormal skin cells to be produced as it replicates. A wart on the sole of the foot is called a verruca. Genital warts are sexually transmitted warts found on the genitals and around the rectum. Warts are usually harmless, but they can look unattractive. They often clear up by themselves, although treatment can help to get rid of them more quickly. Warts are not normally painful, although verrucae can sometimes hurt.


Whelehans Cryotherapy Clinic on Saturday May 30th


Whelehans Cryotherapy Clinic takes place in our private treatment room on Saturday May 30th from 9am. An appointment takes approximately 20 minutes. Cost is €45 euro for first treatment (this includes assessment) and then €35 for follow up treatments should you need them. Our Chiropodist James can treat adults and children. James can treat warts on your hand and verrucae on your feet. Follow up clinic will be last Saturday of each month. There are no discounts for medical card, children or old age pensioners.


Chiropody Clinic at Whelehans


A chiropodist assesses diagnoses and treats diseases and abnormalities of the feet and lower limbs. A chiropodist can significantly improve a person’s quality of life by alleviating painful symptoms and promoting and maintaining mobility. Whelehan’s pharmacy has chiropodist James Pedley in store in our private treatment room every Tuesday and Thursday. You can make an appointment in store or by phoning us at 04493 34591.


Thanks to Chiropodist at Whelehans James Pedley for his help with this article. Call 04493 34591 to book a chiropody appointment.


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