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For Common Warts, Freezing Therapy Works Best: Study
Date:9/16/2010

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to ridding yourself of common warts, freezing -- also known as cryotherapy -- works better than applying salicylic acid, another common treatment, a new Dutch study finds.

No one treatment cured more than half of cases, however, and better treatments for the stubborn skin malady are needed, experts say.

The new finding is a bit of an about-face, according to Dr. Sjoerd Bruggink of Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, who led the research. That's because an earlier review done by another team found that salicylic acid was the preferred treatment.

But for common warts, Bruggink's group found otherwise. He and his colleagues looked at common warts, found on the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of hands, and at plantar warts, which grow on the soles of the feet.

"Our trial is the first to show that for patients with common warts cryotherapy is most effective," Bruggink said. However, "for patients with plantar warts, the active treatments [freezing or salicylic acid] are not more effective than a wait-and-see approach.''

The study, funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, is published Sept. 13 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Warts are non-cancerous skin growths triggered by a viral infection in the skin's top layer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Up to a third of school-age children will develop warts, according to Bruggink, although two-thirds of the growths will go away on their own in two years or less.

Two common treatments for warts are the topical application of salicyclic acid, or cryotherapy, where the wart is frozen away using liquid nitrogen.

For the study, Bruggink tracked outcomes for 250 children and adults, ages 4 to 79, with warts, for 13 weeks. The participants were assigned to either the free
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