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Practical procedures

Out cold: cryotherapy for skin lesions

CHRISTOPHER J. QUIRK

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© dr p. marazzi/spl
© dr p. marazzi/spl

Abstract

Cryotherapy is an important tool used by many GPs in treating skin lesions. A diagnosis is essential before freezing a lesion, and cryotherapy is most effective for superficial lesions.

Article Extract

Many general practitioners and most dermatologists use cryotherapy every day to produce quick, effective results with usually only minor discomfort to the patient. The use of cold to treat skin lesions dates from 1899, when Dr A.C. White, a New York dermatologist, dipped a cotton-tipped applicator in liquid air and successfully treated warts, keratoses and other lesions.1 Liquid nitrogen spray was introduced in the 1960s by Dr Setrag Zacarian, a dermatologist in Boston.1 Liquid nitrogen has a boiling point of -196°C and is still the preferred cryogen.

Figures

© dr p. marazzi/spl
© dr p. marazzi/spl