How to Treat and Remove Warts
Warts are small skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV. Warts are typically painless and harmless, with the infection occurring in the top layer of skin. They are not usually cancerous, and most removals occur for cosmetic purposes. They can appear anywhere on the skin but they are most common on the hands and feet. Wart colors can range from skin-colored, pink, brown and white. They appear as tiny, hard bumps with a rough surface that may have a cauliflower texture. Some can also be dark, flat and smooth. HPV warts will usually clear up on their own in a matter of months or years.
There are multiple varieties of warts, each with different appearances and location tendencies. Common warts usually grow around the nails, on the fingers and back of hands. Foot/Plantar Warts will usually appear on soles of the feet. Flat warts are smaller and smoother than other warts that grow in great numbers. Genital Warts (Condyloma) which occur on the genitalia and anus.
What Causes It?
Warts are tiny skin infections caused by viruses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. Since HPV is a contagious viral infection, warts can be spread by contact to various parts of the body, to objects, or to other people. The likelihood of catching hand, foot, and flat warts is small, but genital warts are sexually transmitted and more contagious.
What Can Be Done?
There are many over-the-counter treatments for warts, but you should never treat warts on your face or genitals yourself. Always consult a dermatologist.
For faster results, topical treatments for young children are often used in combination with other in-office treatments. For adults and older children, the most effective treatment is cryotherapy (freezing of the wart with liquid nitrogen). Electrosurgery (burning and scraping off the wart) and laser treatments are other procedures used to destroy warts. A new topical, immunomodular medicine, Aldara®, has been approved for treatment of genital warts.
If over-the-counter treatments are ineffective, or if warts appear abnormal, contact your dermatologist Dr. Amy Vaughan Dermatology to discuss your treatment options. These may include freezing with liquid nitrogen, which kills the virus and surround infected cells; or removal by laser surgery, one of the quicker removal options.