Liquid nitrogen (dry ice) is often used to “freeze off”
lesions such as actinic keratoses (precancerous skin lesions), warts,
molluscum contagiosum, small skin tags, and seborrheic keratoses. The
object of cryotherapy is to lower the temperature of the skin in an
area, causing necrosis, blistering, and cell death in the area.
Side effects of liquid nitrogen cryotherapy include pain, blister,
sore spots for several days, dark or light discoloration of the skin,
and scarring. It often must be done repeatedly, especially for thicker
lesions. This treatment is somewhat painful in the office and is not
generally used in young children.
The longer the liquid nitrogen is applied, the more painful it is,
the better it works, and the more likely it is to cause a scar. For
very thin lesions, the liquid nitrogen may be applied with a Q-tip
rather than with the spray gun. Treating a lesion conservatively
decreases the risk of scarring, but increases the risk that the lesion
will not be completely treated and will still be present and visible.
Thicker lesions such as warts are usually treated with the spray gun
After you have had liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, you should expect to
have a red, sore spot, and likely a water filled blister. It is fine to
cover the spot with a bandage, but this is not necessary. You can
continue to wash the area as normal and can even wear makeup over the
areas treated. You should expect to be sore in the area treated for
If you have questions about liquid nitrogen cryotherapy, please feel free to call Dr. Abdul Hameed for advice.