Cryotherapy Aftercare Instructions

Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a common skin precancer, affecting more than 58 million Americans. People with a fair complexion, blond or red hair, and blue, green or grey eyes have a high likelihood of developing one or more if they spend time in the sun and live long enough. Chronic sun exposure is the cause of almost all AKs.

SHOULD I BE CONCERNED? Actinic keratosis is called a “pre cancer” because it can be the first step leading to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Up to 10 percent of AKs may advance to SCC, and 40-60 percent of SCCs begin as untreated AKs. About 2 to 10 percent of these SCCs spread to internal organs and become life-threatening. Another form of AK, actinic cheilitis, develops on the lips and may evolve into SCC.

Your Smartest Move: PREVENTION: The best way to prevent actinic keratosis is to make sun safety part of your daily health care routine.

When outdoors, seek the shade, especially between 10AM and 4PM.

Wear sun-protective clothing,including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Use a high-SPF, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher.

Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.

For more information: © 2013 The Skin Cancer Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

What to expect:

Liquid nitrogen is applied to the top of the skin lesion. Freezing occurs throughout the area which extends slightly to the surrounding tissue. Freezing can cause stinging, burning pain that peaks about 2 minutes after the treatment is performed. Within minutes after freezing, surrounding skin will become red and begin to swell. In most cases a blister will actually form within 3-6 hours. Often there is a small amount of bleeding into the blister which will turn it dark purple of black. This is expected and should not be cause for concern. The blister usually flattens in 2-3 days and sloughs off in 2-4 weeks.

How to care for the treated area:

  1. As the blister may be tender for the first few days, you may want to protect it with a band-aid. However, most often it may be left to the air.

  2. You should gently cleanse the treated area daily with mild soap and water.

  3. If the area is excessively uncomfortable, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen.

  4. Protect the area from sun exposure while it is healing to help prevent scar formation.


Please be aware that warts, actinic keratoses, and seborrheic keratoses often require several treatments. If your skin lesion is still present after healing (usually 2 weeks), schedule a follow-up appointment; otherwise, return as instructed by Dr.Rodney.

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