Effective therapy for genital warts

May require multiple visits to the medical clinic

Freezing or cryotherapy is an effective treatment option for genital warts.

It is performed by a physician and typically takes from 5 to 15 minutes.

Wart freezingCryotherapy involves direct placement of liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide on the wart tissue.  The extremely low temperature provided by these agents leads to permanent damage of the wart tissue, as well as the surrounding healthy tissues, such as blood vessels and superficial layers of the skin.

Depending on the size and thickness of the lesion, the process of freezing the wart may take longer to complete or involve up to 3 repeat applications performed every 1-2 weeks.

Freezing is an option for many types of genital warts, but not all.  It is useful for warts located on easily accessible areas of the body, such as shaft of the penis, vulva, skin of the genital region, anus.

You should also keep in mind that the process of freezing a wart tissue is rather painful.  For this reason, warts located in body areas that are especially tender, are best not treated with cryotherapy.

During the procedure, you may feel unpleasant burning or pain in the vicinity of the wart.

Skin irritation, redness or blistering may develop after the procedure.  These changes are completely normal and will heal within 1-3 weeks.  You should avoid engaging in sexual activity until all lesions have healed.

 

Effectiveness

Cryotherapy is a very effective form of treatment of genital warts.

It provides clearance rates of 79-88% after the first three treatments (1).

However, as is common with other forms of treatment for genital warts, cryotherapy is associated with a recurrence rate of 25-40% (2).

Overall, the best results are seen with warts that are small and located on the vulva or the penile shaft (3).

 

Side Effects

Due to the nature of its mechanism of action, cryotherapy is commonly associated with the following side effects:

  • Localized pain
  • Blistering
  • Ulceration
  • Scarring
  • Loss of pigmentation
  • Infection

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