What are warts?
Warts are skin growths caused by viral infection with the HPV virus. Warts affect the top layer of the skin and are not usually cancerous. Usually, warts are skin colored and rough, however, they can be flat, dark, and smooth, depending on the strain of the HPV virus, the location on the body, and the immune system of the affected individual. Warts are contagious and you can spread them to other people and even to yourself, which is why wart removal is recommended for individuals who have them.
What are the types of warts?
- Dome-shaped warts – these are common warts that develop in the back of the fingers, knees, and toes.
- Flat/Plane warts – these warts usually appear in large numbers on the face, legs, and other parts of the body.
- Plantar warts – these warts generally develop in the bottom of the foot, where the plantar region is. Plantar warts can be difficult to treat and painful
- Periungual warts – these warts are appearing under or around the nail.
- Filiform warts – these types of warts are present on the face with a single long stalk of blemish.
- Genital warts– (condyloma accuminata)-is a type of warts that affects the male and female external genitalia, and is spread by sexual transmission.
How do I get warts?
Warts are contagious and are acquired from person-to-person transmission (like handshakes), contact with infected objects (like gym equipment), and self-spread.
How can I treat warts?
There are different wart treatments being used by dermatologists and it varies on the type of wart and the age of the individual.
Over-the-counter treatments include applying the salicylic acid solution. Treatment may take weeks before seeing desirable results. If the wart starts to form a sore, treatment should be paused and delayed temporarily. Over-the-counter freezing sprays are also used, but they are not nearly as effective as the liquid nitrogen freezing available by dermatologists.
When should I see a dermatologist to treat my warts?
Dermatologists can treat warts much more effectively than over-the-counter treatments.
Cryotherapy (or cryosyrgery) is the most common method of wart removal used by dermatologists and is the preferred wart treatment for teens and adults. This process uses liquid nitrogen spray to destroy the wart virus directly and the skin cells that are harboring the HPV virus.
When treating a child with warts, dermatologists can use a medicine called Cantharidin which causes the wart to blister and is not painful.
Immunotherapy is another way of treating warts; it makes use of the body’s own immune system to battle warts that have developed. Injecting the wart with a medicine called intralesional candida antigen is a way of stimulating the body’s own immune system to go kill the wart virus.
Laser surgery is also used for wart removal and is good for stubborn warts around the fingers or plantar warts on the bottom of the feet. The laser works by directly destroying the HPV virus and cutting off the blood supply to the wart.
Dermatologists will often recommend prescription medicine to be used at home to treat warts after freezing was applied in the office. Prescription wart medicines include Aldara, Imiquimod, and Veregen.
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