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Cryotherapy beats salicylic acid for wart removal

By Lilian Anekwe

Cyrotherapy with liquid nitrogen is the most effective method of removing warts, a randomised controlled trial suggests.

Researchers compared 250 patients aged four to 79 treated in 30 primary care practices in the Netherlands who were randomly assigned to cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen once every two weeks, self-application of salicylic acid daily, or a ‘wait and see' approach.

After 13 weeks cure rates were 39% in the cryotherapy group, 24% in the salicylic acid group and 16% in the wait and see group.

The differences were even greater for patients with common warts, where cure rates were 49% for cryotherapy, compared with 15% for salicylic acid and 8% for the wait and see approach.

But no significant difference was seen in cure rates for plantar warts.

Study leader Dr Sjoerd Bruggink, a researcher in human genetics at the University of Leiden Medical Centre, concluded: ‘Although earlier evidence favoured topical salicylic acid application over cryotherapy for the treatment of cutaneous warts, the results of our randomised controlled trial provides evidence to support the use of cryotherapy over salicylic acid treatment, for common warts only.'

Canadian Medical Association Journal, published online September 13.

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