Study Says Liquid Nitrogen Best To Treat Common Warts


If you've been worrying about warts, here is some interesting news for you. A latest research conducted by scientists in the Netherlands brings forth some suggestions regarding the treatment of warts, especially whether treating warts is actually advisable. In fact, the findings of this new study may be helpful to you in determining whether you should go for treatment of warts.

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According to the findings of the study undertaken by researchers in the Netherlands, it is practically very difficult or impossible to cure warts that have been there for a prolonged period, for instance, for a period of over six months. In fact, the study also distinguishes the main variations in the treatment for plantar warts on the soles of the feet and the common warts, which are usually found on the hands as well as other areas of the body.

The findings of the research published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal cited cryotherapy (treatment by means of applications of cold) to be the most effectual means to cure common warts. In cryotherapy, the physician topically applied liquid nitrogen on the warts once in two weeks. The report said that around 49 per cent of the patients examined and treated during the course of the study were cured through cryotherapy after 13 weeks. On the contrary, only 15 per cent of the patients in the group who undertook self-treatment everyday using petroleum jelly containing 40 per cent salicylic acid (comparatively a higher intensity than what is found in non-prescription products in Canada) were cured during this period. It is interesting to note that the study found that patients in the group who adopted a 'wait-and-watch' attitude and took no treatment found that the warts were gone after a period of 13 weeks.

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Over 50 per cent of the children below 12 years in the study group enduring plantar warts were treated using either salicylic acid or liquid nitrogen. Again, the researchers were surprised to find that approximately 43 per cent of people enduring plantar warts found them gone even without undergoing any treatment. Nevertheless, for the teens and adults having warts on the soles of their feet faced depressing results. In either treatment group, the rate of healing did not vary notably, as only five per cent of the patients in both groups were relieved of their warts.

Talking about the findings of the research team from the Netherlands, Dr. Peter Vignjevic, a practicing dermatologist as well as an assistant professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, said that it was a little discouraging to find that the study has established that plantar warts cannot be treated effectively with liquid nitrogen. Hence, the main question is that if liquid nitrogen does not work for plantar warts, what actually does, he asked. He further said that when patients wait for six months to have an appointment with him and if he simply asks them to wait for the warts to clear away, the patients would definitely not be too pleased. He went on to add that, in response to his advice to the patients, they might as well say that they have already been waiting for a year or two and, in such cases, if he asks them to wait for a few more years, it would be disgusting for his patients.

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According to Dr. Vignjevic, on an average he possibly examines around 60 to 70 patients having warts that are caused by human papillomavirus (a virus belonging to the genus papillomavirus and having certain strains that cause skin and genital warts in humans). At the same time, he noted that the health insurance plan in Ontario covers the treatment costs for plantar warts that do not seem to be curable, but the plan does not reimburse the expenses incurred in the treatment of common warts, despite the fact that treatment of common warts has proved to be more successful. Hence, he says that the terms and conditions of the Ontario health insurance plan do not make any sense to him.

Nevertheless, the timing of the treatment may be of great significance.

According to a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Jason Rivers, it is remarkable to note that the study detected that the patients who endured warts for over six months, irrespective of the variety of wart, actually had a poorer reaction compared to people who suffered warts for a comparatively brief period.

In fact, this finding may actually hint towards an alteration in the wart virus itself, Dr. Rivers said, speculating that the virus is turning out to be increasingly integrated into the system of an individual's body rather than an alien element that might not be as well entrenched and capable of supporting itself. According to Dr. Rivers, the findings of the research hint at the fact that it is better to treat warts earlier instead of initiating treatment at a later stage. Citing an example, he said that if one observes the cure rate of using cryotherapy for common wart, he/ she would find that the success rate is approximately 83 per cent provided the wart has not been around for around six months. He further says that researches have shown that the success rate of treating common wart by cryotherapy actually declines to as low as 33 per cent when the wart has been existing for a period of over six months.

Dr. Rivers says that irrespective of the mode of treatment, it is actually very difficult to take care of or cure plantar warts. In this case too, the success rate of treatment with cryotherapy was about 50 per cent conditional on that the wart has been existing for less than six months, while the cure rate dropped abysmally to a mere 11 per cent when the wart has been around for over six months.

According to Dr. Rivers, there were over 100 dissimilar wart viruses and each of them had a distinguished penchant for binding themselves to the skin. He observed that the plantar wart viruses have a greater aptitude to attach themselves to the skin, especially the substantial calloused skin on the sole of the foot. While analyzing the findings of the study undertaken by the team of scientists from the Netherlands, Dr. Rivers noted that the results tables did not provide a rundown on the account of the number of warts. He said that it would definitely make a variation if people with more warts accidentally got included in the study group where patients did not resort to any treatment, but adopted a 'wait-and-watch' approach.

It may be mentioned here that the randomized controlled study conducted by scientists in the Netherlands surveyed as many as 240 patients whose age ranged from four years to 79 years. These patients turned up at 30 different family practices in the Netherlands for treating their warts.

According to Dr. Sjoerd Bruggink, co-author of the study as well as a professor at the Leiden University Medical Center, as many as 90 per cent of people gets warts at some point in their lifetime. At the same time, he pointed out that family physicians usually consider warts to be trivial ailments and, hence, this disease has not been researched adequately. In a telephone interview, Dr. Bruggink said that the study undertaken by the scientists can be said to be important as such type of studies usually do not receive sufficient funds.

Dr. Bruggink further said that though warts are completely harmless, they are usually very bothersome. He said that earlier they had conducted another research involving primary school students wherein as many as 33 per cent of the children had warts in some or the other part of their body. Stating that warts were a very widespread problem, Dr. Bruggink said that they may even cause annoyance on the hands or the feet. Hence, he said that he termed warts as an annoying but non-detrimental ailment.

Meanwhile, Dr. Vignjevic too echoed the views of Dr. Bruggink. He too said that though warts are not hazardous, it is likely that people having warts on the cervix may be prone to cervical cancer. At the same time, Dr. Vignjevic observed that using cryotherapy to treat warts may result in specific side effects. According to him, the side effects of cryotherapy may include pain, result in redness and swelling, formation of eruptions or blisters, a little scarring and lingering enhanced or decreased pigmentation, which may occasionally be an enduring problem.


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