Chemical Cautery

What is chemical cautery?

Chemical cautery is a procedure of burning a small part of a body. It removes an undesired growths like skin tags, warts, milia and molluscum contagiosum. Many chemical can destroy tissue and some are used routinely in medicine, most commonly for the removal of small skin lesions.

It is an office procedure with good patient compliance.

How chemical cautery works?

It causes tissue necrosis or burn, resulting in destruction of portion of skin and end result regeneration of new skin.

What are cauterising agents?

Some cauterizing agents are:

  • Silver Nitrate : Active ingredient of the lunar caustic, a stick that traditionally looks like a large match. It is dipped into water and pressed onto the lesion to be cauterized for a few moments.
  • Trichloroacetic acid.
  • Cantharidin : An extract of the blister beetle that causes epidermal necrosis and blistering, used to treat warts.

What are the indications of chemical cautery?

Indications –

• Acne scars.

• Alopecia areata.

• Ear lobe repair.

• Freckles.

• Hemostasis.

• Milia.

• Mocous cysts.

• Molluscum contagiosum.

• Necrotized tissue.

• Skin tags.

• Stable vitiligo.

• Warts.

• Xanthelasma palpebrum.

Who should not do chemical cautery?

In following conditions we should not do the procedure –

• very large lesion.

• Infected lesion or active infection, where we want to do the procedure.

• Uncontrolled diabetes.

• Keloidal tendency.

What care require before and after chemical cautery procedure?

• Protection of normal surrounding tissue.

• Doctor should treat large lesion in multiple sittings.

• Doctor will prescribe topical as well as oral antibiotics and other medications. Person should take those medication properly and follow instructions properly to avoid complications.

What are the advantages of chemical cautery procedure?

• Office procedure.

• Excellent result.

• Good patient compliance.

• Minimal side effects.

What are the disadvantages of chemical cautery procedure?

• Not very effective for hyperkeratotic lesions or on lesions situated on keratinized areas of genitalia.

• Chemicals can leach into areas not intended for cauterization.

Can we combine this procedure with other procedures?

Yes we can combine this procedure with other procedures like –


Intra lesional injection.

• Surgery.

What are the side effects of procedure?

Mild burning, swelling, irritation.