Warts are fleshy, painless skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Different strains may cause warts to develop on different parts of the body including the hands, feet, genitals, and face.
Warts are spread by touching the wart, skin to skin contact during sexual activity, touching something contaminated with the virus such as towels or doorknobs, nail biting and shaving.
Although most warts are harmless, many people choose to treat them because they can spread and become cosmetically bothersome. Some strains of genital HPV have been linked with cancer, so evaluation and treatment are recommended.
Warts can be difficult to treat and there is no single treatment that is uniformly effective.
Stubborn warts are those that fail to respond to initial conventional treatment and are difficult to treat. Treatments are aimed at relieving physical and psychological discomfort and preventing the spread of the infection.
Treatment of warts
- OTC topical salicylic acid preparations may be helpful for one to several small warts that are less than one year old. OTC salicylic acid should not be used on the face or genitals.
- Liquid nitrogen (freezing the warts with cryogen). After the treatment a blister will form and will peel off layers of the wart.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the warts. This treatment is used when the warts remain despite other treatments. One type of immunotherapy involves applying a chemical, such as diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP), to the warts. A mild allergic reaction occurs around the treated warts.
- Cantharidin is a substance that comes from the blister beetle. The cantharidin solution is placed on the wart, covered with a bandaid and later washed off with soap and water. A blister will form, and the dead skin will eventually slough off.
- 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.
- Laser therapy or surgical removal may be recommended in the most stubborn of cases.
In most cases multiple treatments will be needed to gradually destroy the wart and even with successful treatment warts may recur over time.
Lucent Dermatology has the expertise and treatment options necessary to do away with warts. At Lucent Dermatology you will always be treated with respect and informed of all your treatment options.