Cryotherapy Deep Dive – Warts & Verrucae
A new series of articles diving into the science behind treating skin lesions with Cryotherapy. This week we cover warts/verrucae.
Warts/Verrucae are the same thing, they are both viral infections of the stratum corneum, they are classified dermatologically as ”Viral induced tumours of stratum corneum cells”.
The virus involved is the human papillomavirus- HPV, there are roughly 14 different variants of the virus, most warts and verrucae being caused by HPV V and VII.
When you treat them, the aim is to destroy the cells that contain the virus and hence the viral particles too. Sometimes however if there are viable virus particles remaining, they can reinfect corneum cells and it then appears as if the wart/verrucae has returned, this can cause stimulation in new cells (the virus basically turns the dead St Corneum cells back on to start reproducing, hence the ‘tumour’ definition) and it looks like it is bigger than before.
When people use acids for treatment as in proprietary treatments, it is usually salicylic acid which hydrates cells and causes tissue breakdown, but does not destroy the virus, and therefore needs constantly repeated treatments to destroy the tissue, it is a very ineffective and inefficient method. Likewise covering with Duct tape just macerates the skin and has the same effect as the acids. Both methods can release viable virus causing reinfection.
In dermatology we recommend that you do not treat more than 3 times with cryotherapy as there will be no further improvement with more treatments, however, there is often a reaction a few months afterwards, as by releasing the virus you can get an immune response.
Remember as part of the initial inflammation you get a release of white blood cells – macrophages and T helper cells. The helper cells produce antibodies to the virus and macrophages engulf and destroy them so often the wart/verrucae will clear away a few months later.
Found out more about our Cryotherapy courses here