What Causes Warts and How to Treat Them
Warts are embarrassing. They can greatly increase your self-consciousness depending on their location, especially if they are plainly visible to other people. But did you know that many people have warts and they don’t even know it?
When Warts Show Up
Warts are a common skin condition caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) and they typically form on the hands and feet. It can take a wart as long as two to six months to develop after your skin has been exposed to the virus.
Warts enter through tiny breaks in the skin and live on the skin’s outermost layer. In most cases, a rough bump will form and will appear slightly lighter or darker than the color of the skin. Tiny black dots may also be noticeable on the bump. These black dots are small, clotted blood vessels.
Common warts appear near the fingernails and on the hand, often affecting children. Plantars warts appear near the sole of the foot. They are often flat from the pressure of impact and can be painful when walking. Genital warts occur in the genital area and are considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
What Causes Warts
Unfortunately, we are all exposed to wart causes on a daily basis. Everyone is susceptible to developing warts, but children and those with a weaker immune system are especially susceptible.
The HPV virus is found on common surfaces, such as shower floors. Because of this, it is important not to go barefoot when at a public pool or in a public locker room. Additionally, don’t share nail clippers, shave over warts, touch other people’s or your own warts, and avoid biting your fingernails.
Even though you may follow all these steps to avoid developing warts, you may still develop them. If you do, a wide variety of treatments are available.
If you develop warts, a dermatologist at Mohs Dermatology & Surgery Institute can find an appropriate treatment for warts that don’t disappear on their own. Wart treatments can include over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation/curettage, laser surgery, and HPV vaccines and injections.
OTC options can be purchased from your local drug store, including topical treatments to help warts disappear. Look for products that contain salicylic acid, which will help dry up the wart.
A variety of treatments can be performed by your dermatologist to help with wart relief and removal. With cryotherapy, your dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart in order to destroy it. As the skin thaws, the wart will fall off. While effective, this wart treatment may require a few visits until completely successful. Electrodesiccation and curettage involves the use of an electric needle to cut and/or destroy the wart. Laser surgery can help vaporize HPV growths and the blood vessel supporting the wart. There are also two HPV vaccines that can be used as a wart treatment. Finally, anti-cancer drugs such as bleomycin can be injected to kill the virus inside the wart.
Many of these wart treatments may take several visits and treatments. It is important to see a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute if your warts are spreading or if your current wart treatments are not working, even after several visits. Complete this form if you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding area to schedule an appointment. Our dermatologists are ready and able to diagnose and/or treat your warts.