Comparison of 10% potassium hydroxide solution versus cryotherapy in the treatment of molluscum contagiosum: an open randomized clinical trial

J Dermatolog Treat. 2014 Jun;25(3):249-50. doi: 10.3109/09546634.2013.832135. Epub 2013 Aug 27.


Introduction: Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a common cutaneous viral infection. Potassium hydroxide (KOH), as a strong alkali, and cryotherapy have been used for its treatment. The objective of this study was to compare these two treatment modalities.

Methods: 30 patients, aged between 1 and 24 years of age, were randomly divided into 2 groups: 15 were treated with KOH 10% solution and 15 were treated with cryotherapy. KOH 10 % was applied by the patient or their parent(s) two times a day until the lesions disappeared completely. Cryotherapy was performed with liquid nitrogen spray, repeated weekly for 4 weeks. The assessment of response and side effects were performed weekly for 4 weeks.

Results: In the KOH group, 86.6% had complete response, 6.7% had partial response and 6.7% had no response after 4 weeks. In the cryotherapy group, 93.3% had complete response and 6.7% had partial response. There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups (p > 0.05). Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, as a side effect, was mostly noted with cryotherapy.

Conclusion: Both treatment modalities were equally effective. Since KOH is inexpensive and confers better cosmetic results compared to cryotherapy, it can be used as a suitable treatment modality for MC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryosurgery*
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxides / administration & dosage*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / drug therapy
  • Molluscum Contagiosum / therapy*
  • Potassium Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Hydroxides
  • Potassium Compounds
  • potassium hydroxide