Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Warts: Removal by Freezing

How can my wart be removed?

Warts can be removed in a number of ways. One way is called cryosurgery(freezing the wart). This 2-step process removes the wart without hurting the skin around it.

The first step is getting your wart ready to be removed. You can help with this step. The second step is freezing the wart, which will be done by your doctor in his or her office. You may need to have several freezing treatments before the wart is completely removed.

What do I need to do?

You must do some things on your own at home to get the wart ready for removal. Doing these things before you come to your doctor's office can reduce the number of freezing treatments you need. You should do the following:

  1. Every night for 2 weeks, clean the wart with soap and water and put 17% salicylic acid gel (one brand name: Compound W) on it.
  2. After putting on the gel, cover the wart with a piece of 40% salicylic acid pad (one brand name: Mediplast). Cut the pad so that it is a little bit bigger than the wart. The pad has a sticky backing that will help it stay on the wart.
  3. Leave the pad on the wart for 24 hours. If the area becomes very sore or red, stop using the gel and pad and call your doctor's office.
  4. After you take the pad off, clean the area with soap and water, put more gel on the wart and put on another pad. If you are very active during the day and the pad moves off the wart, you can leave the area uncovered during the day and only wear the pad at night.

What happens next?

After 2 weeks of this treatment, your wart will have turned white and will look fluffy. Your doctor will then be able to remove the white skin layer covering the wart and use cryosurgery to freeze the base (root) of the wart. If your skin reacts strongly to cold, tell your doctor before cryosurgery.

Cryosurgery can be uncomfortable, but it usually isn't too painful. The freezing is somewhat numbing. When your doctor places the instrument on your skin to freeze the wart, it will feel like an ice cube is stuck to your skin. Afterward, you may feel a burning sensation as your skin thaws out.

Healing after cryosurgery usually doesn't take long. You will probably be able to enjoy all your usual activities while you heal, including bathing or showering. Cryosurgery leaves little or no scar.

After the area has healed, the treated skin may be a bit lighter in color than the skin around it.