Warts are small skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus that infects the top layer of skin. Small and usually painless, warts are commonly found on the hands and feet, but can occur elsewhere on the skin. Most warts are harmless, but may be unsightly, uncomfortable and can also be contagious. They are usually spread by contact, such as from one part of the body to another, through handshakes or handling of infected objects. Warts may take on different appearances and it is best to have suspected lesions diagnosed by a dermatologist.
Typically warts may go away on their own after months or years. Various over the counter medications can also be used. Most of these are a salicylic acid solution or a freezing spray. The spray is less effective than the freezing treatments done by dermatologists.
Do not treat warts on the face or genitalia yourself. These need to be treated by a dermatologist.
TREATMENT & CARE FOR WARTS
For warts that do not respond to over-the-counter medications, dermatologists have much more effective treatments:
- Topical treatments - strong solutions or creams can be combined with freezing treatments for optimal response.
- Cryotherapy - freezing therapy that uses liquid nitrogen to destroy the warts.
- Shave and electrocautery - warts that protrude from the surface of the skin can be shaved with a sharp razor, and the base burned with an electrical device.
- CO2 laser - Stubborn warts, especially those on the soles of feet or around fingers, toes and nails, can be lasered off using a CO2 laser.
When a speedy one off treatment is preferred, surgical methods such as shave excision or CO2 laser are recommended. Unfortunately, regardless of the treatment method used, new warts may appear and old warts may recur. Do see your dermatologist for early treatment to avoid spread of the viral warts.