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Cryotherapy for Skin Conditions

Cryotherapy is the go-to treatment for benign skin lesions, as this web page from the British Association of Dermatologists explains. But when British dermatologists talk about cryotherapy, they mean cryosurgery, which is the process of superfreezing tissue to remove skin tags or warts. When we here at Peak talk about cryotherapy, we are usually talking about whole-body cryotherapy (WBC). WBC is not surgery at all and does little or nothing for warts or skin tags. Why, then, am I writing about cryotherapy for skin conditions?

8 Weeks to Eczema Improvement

It turns out that there is a place for WBC in helping with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. A Finnish study reported in JAMA Dermatology in 2008 described 18 adults suffering from atopic dermatitis (the most prevalent variety of eczema). The patients used no dermatitis medications for a week before the cryotherapy treatments began. Then they received WBC three times a week for four weeks. In an 8-week followup period, 17 patients achieved improvements ranging from 19.6% to 37.5% in every measurement of their condition, including sleep loss and perceived itchiness. In some dimensions, improvement continued after the followup period ended.

The evidence for psoriasis is less clear. I could find no research reports of WBC for psoriasis. But there are plenty of websites, particularly those sponsored by organizations selling WBC, that claim it can help psoriasis. Just do a web search on “whole-body cryotherapy for psoriasis,” and you will find them. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder, and there is evidence that WBC’s rejuvenating process can benefit other autoimmune disorders. But I think the jury is still out on psoriasis.

Scare Stories

Note that the American Academy of Dermatology Association has put up a website advising against using WBC for skin conditions. The Academy says WBC can lead to frostbite, frozen limbs, or rashes. But if you read their scare stories about these conditions, you see that they occur when you violate the protocols we observe here at Peak. Yes, you can get frostbite if you enter the cryo cabinet barefoot, sit down in it, or stay in it longer than three minutes. But at Peak, our procedures, which are enforced by a staff member at all times, prevent such mistakes. If you drop your phone in the cryo cabinet, do not try to retrieve it. Better yet, don’t even use your phone during a WBC session. You can enjoy the exhilaration while it’s happening and post about it later.

Cryotherapy for Skin Conditions

If you have atopic dermatitis, you may find that WBC gives you immediate soothing of your dermatitis symptoms, the way it did for the patients in Finland. At the end of three minutes, when you step out of the booth back into room temperature, you will likely feel a mild euphoria. This is partly due to the relief of getting out of the cold, but it’s also due to a release of endorphins, which is one of your body’s reactions to the extreme temperature. Certain people should avoid cryotherapy: those who are pregnant, those with high blood pressure or heart conditions, and those with venous thrombosis, to name a few. See the FAQ, “Are there any circumstances in which cryotherapy treatment should not be applied?” on this page for a more complete list. But for others, it has no bad side effects, and many people find it to be refreshing. 

But WBC is probably most useful for subclinical skin conditions. It increases the levels of oxygen and anti-inflammatory proteins in the bloodstream, which accelerates the rate of tissue repair and reduces inflammation. The result can be a rejuvenation of the skin. The best part is that it only takes three minutes. Book a few sessions today.