What to Do About Warts?

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Growth Removal, Skin Care

Warts are often harmless skin growths that disappear over time. Even so, they are still unattractive, especially if they grow on exposed areas like the hands and fingers. If warts grow on the soles of one’s feet, walking and moving become painful. 

Removing warts can be challenging. It may even take some time to get rid of them. But because of the latest medical advancements, effective, less intrusive wart removal treatments are now available. 

What Causes Warts and How Are Warts Spread?

A wart grows in the upper layer of the skin or epidermis. It usually has a rough and raised surface. Other warts, such as those on the face, may appear flat and smooth. The central area of a wart may appear speckled with dark-colored spots. These dots are the capillaries that supply the wart with blood.

Warts develop because of HPV (human papillomavirus). About 10 out of the 150 strains of HPV cause skin warts. These include flat, common, and plantar warts. Certain strains bring about genital and anal warts. 

Warts can spread easily from one person to another. The viral pathogen may also reach the skin through direct contact with floors, showers, and lockers. Warts may also spread from one area of the body to another. HPV can stay on the skin for years and then produce a wart one day. After disappearing, the virus can remain on the skin. 

Treatment Options for Warts

Wart treatment goals include stimulating the immune system to battle the virus, destroy the wart, or both. The treatment may take weeks or even months. Even as the treatment happens, warts may still spread. The doctor can recommend a treatment based on the wart’s symptoms and location. Below are some of the known treatments for warts:

  • Cryotherapy or Freezing – This procedure takes place in the doctor’s office. The doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to the patient’s wart. This flash-freezing method forms a blister underneath and around the wart. This pushes the dead tissue off within at least a week. Cryotherapy may also stimulate the immune system to fight future warts. Repeating this treatment may be necessary.
  • Acids – The doctor can prescribe a wart medication with salicylic acid. This can remove layers of the wart little by little. Research shows that this ingredient becomes more effective when used with cryotherapy. 

Trichloroacetic acid may be an alternative treatment if freezing or salicylic acid is not effective. The doctor will shave the surface of the wart first. Applying the acid with a wooden applicator follows. The patient must have this treatment for a week or so. 

  • Laser therapy – This treatment uses a pulsed-dye laser, which cauterizes the capillaries in the wart. The burning kills the infected tissue, which leads to the removal of the wart. 
  • Minor surgery – The doctor may cut away the infected tissue.

How to Prevent Warts

Studies show that there is still no cure for warts. These growths may return to the same location or even appear in a new area of your skin. If you are going through a wart treatment, here are some ways of preventing new warts from developing:

  • Wash your hands as often as you can. This can help remove the virus from your skin.
  • Refrain from touching someone’s skin wart. This is a contagious condition. If you have a scratch or cut, the virus can enter your skin and form a wart.
  • Provide individual personal items to each member of the family. Using your own toiletries, clothes, and hygiene products can help prevent warts from spreading in your home.
  • Stop cuticle chewing or nail biting. The tiny sores created by this habit allow HPV to enter your body.
  • Moisturize your skin. Dry skin leaves cracks that allow the virus to enter your body and form warts. Make sure to hydrate often by drinking water and applying moisturizers.
  • Clean and cover minor skin injuries: This prevents your wounds from being contaminated by HPV. 
  • Wear pool shoes or flip-flops in public showers, lockers, and pools. HPV thrives in these places. Wet feet become more vulnerable to plantar warts if you do not protect them well. 

Closing Thoughts

Once you see a wart on your skin, see a dermatologist right away. That way, you’ll receive early treatment. The most effective treatment will depend on the type of wart and its location. It also depends on your preference. Proper wart treatment and prevention can help improve your skin’s appearance and health. For more information, come see us at Complete Family Dermatology in Lincoln, Nebraska. Call our clinic at 402-423-1111 to schedule an appointment.

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