From the Journals

A case of cold burn reported with whole-body cryotherapy



Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) can lead to cold burns in some circumstances, according to a case report by Mackenzie O’Connor and her colleagues in the department of dermatology and cutaneous biology at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia.

A woman approaches a cryotherapy chamber jacoblund/Getty Images

In the report, they describe the case of a 71-year-old man who presented with a cold burn injury a day after a WBC session. These treatments typically involve sessions of 2-5 minutes, in a chamber that is cooled down to –100°C to –140°C.

The likely cause in this case was a nozzle malfunction that caused liquid nitrogen to come in direct contact with the patient’s skin for a prolonged period of time (less than 1 minute), causing stinging and pain, followed by redness and blistering of the skin. The patient had received four WBC treatments previously for arthritis and back pain, with no adverse effects. In addition to ibuprofen, he was treated with systemic steroids, topical corticosteroids, and silver sulfadiazine cream.

Despite claims that WBC can aid muscle recovery and alleviate joint pain, and can improve skin health, and is increasingly available in spas and other sites, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the procedure for treatment of any medical conditions, the researchers noted (JAAD Case Rep. 2019;5[1]:29-30). They also referred to a 2015 Cochrane review, which found insufficient evidence that WBC treatment is beneficial for muscle recovery in active young adult men.

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