Warts are raised bumps on your skin caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Warts have plagued humans for thousands of years—they have been discovered on 3,000-year-old mummies and were mentioned by Shakespeare. Although these are generally not dangerous, they are ugly, potentially embarrassing, contagious, and they can be painful.
There are more than 100 types of HPV, the virus that causes warts. Almost all types of HPV cause relatively harmless warts that appear on your hands or feet. However, there are a few strains of HPV that cause warts on, in, and around your genitals. In women these “genital warts”—can cause cervical cancer, a potentially fatal disease. If you think you have genital warts or think you have been exposed to them, you should see a doctor right away for warts treatment.
Types of Warts:
There are five types of warts which are very common. Each type appears on different part of the body and has a distinct appearance.
Common warts usually grow on your fingers and toes but can appear elsewhere. They have a rough, grainy appearance and a rounded top. Common warts are grayer than the surrounding skin.
Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet. Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow into your skin, not out of it. You can tell if you have a plantar wart if you notice what appears to be a small hole in the bottom of your foot that is surrounded by hardened skin. Plantar warts can make walking uncomfortable.
Flat warts usually grow on the face, thighs, or arms. They are small and not immediately noticeable. Flat warts have a flat top, as if they have been scraped. They can be pink, brownish, or slightly yellow.
Filiform warts grow around your mouth or nose and sometimes on your neck or under your chin. They are small and shaped like a tiny flap or tag of skin. Filiform warts are the same color as your skin.
Periungual warts grow under and around the toenails and fingernails. They can be painful and affect nail growth.
Time to see the doctor for warts treatment:
You should see your doctor if:
- you have warts on your face or another sensitive part of your body
- you notice bleeding or signs of infection, such as pus or scabbing, around a wart
- the wart is painful
- the color of the wart changes
- you have warts and diabetes or an immune deficiency, such as HIV/AIDS
How does dermatologists do warts treatment?
Warts often go away without treatment. This is especially true when children get this. In adults, warts may not disappear as easily or as quickly as they do in children. Although most warts are harmless, dermatologists do treat them.
You should see a dermatologist if you cannot get rid of the warts, the warts hurt, or you have many warts. Dermatologists have many treatments for warts. The treatment used depends on the patient’s age and health as well as the type of wart.
For Warts treatment a dermatologist may use one of the following ways:
- Laser treatment: Laser treatment is an option, mainly for warts that have not responded to other therapies. Before laser treatment, the dermatologist may numb the wart with an anesthetic injection (shot).
- Chemical peels: When flat warts appear, there are usually many warts. Because so many warts appear, dermatologists often prescribe “peeling” methods to treat these warts. This means, you will apply a peeling medicine at home every day. Peeling medicines include salicylic acid (stronger than you can buy at the store), tretinoin, and glycolic acid.
- Bleomycin: The dermatologist may inject each wart with an anti-cancer medicine, bleomycin. The shots may hurt. They can have other side effects, such as nail loss if given in the fingers.
- Immunotherapy: This warts treatment uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the warts. This treatment is used when these remain despite other treatments. One type of immunotherapy involves applying a chemical, such as diphencyprone (DCP), to the wart. A mild allergic reaction occurs around the treated one. This reaction may cause the wart to go away.Another type of immunotherapy involves getting shots of interferon. The shots can boost the body’s immune system, which gives the body the ability to fight the virus.
Warts treatment can be done in other ways too:
- Cantharidin: A dermatologist may treat a wart in the clinic/ hospital by “painting” it with cantharidin. Cantharidin causes a blister to form under the wart. In a week or so, you can return to the clinic/ hospital and the dermatologist will clip away the dead wart.
- Cryotherapy: For common warts in adults and older children, cryotherapy (freezing) is the most common treatment. This treatment is not too painful. It can cause dark spots in people who have dark skin. It is common to need repeat treatments.
- Electrosurgery and curettage: Electrosurgery (burning) is a good treatment for common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. Curettage involves scraping off (curetting) the wart with a sharp knife or small, spoon-shaped tool. These two procedures often are used together. The dermatologist may remove the wart by scraping it off before or after electrosurgery.
- Excision: The doctor may cut out the wart (excision).
Warts treatment: Outcome
Warts can return at the same site or appear in a new spot if it is not treated well. Sometimes, it seems that new ones appear as fast as old ones go away. This happens when the old ones shed virus cells into the skin before the warts are treated. This allows new ones to grow around the first warts. The best way to prevent this is to have your dermatologist treat the new ones as soon as they appear, then they will suggest best warts treatment.