Warts are benign skin growths that appear when a virus infects the top layer of the skin. They often appear as a small, unsightly, rough growth on a person’s hands or feet, but can also appear on other parts of the body. There are many types of warts, some appearing flat or raised, and others growing in large clusters.
The virus that causes most warts is called human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are usually harmless, but some strains of HPV are associated with other health complications. Wart viruses are contagious and can spread by direct contact, usually entering the body in an area of broken skin.
When should you see your dermatologist?
In some cases, a wart will disappear on its own, although it may take months or even years. Most people prefer some method of wart removal since warts are often unattractive, bothersome and even painful. In many cases, warts can be treated at home.
Common methods for self-treatment include covering the wart with duct tape or applying salicylic acid. It’s always best to consult your dermatologist before trying any at-home remedies. Wart removal by a trained dermatologist is always the most effective treatment.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends visiting your dermatologist if you have any of the following:
- Any doubt that the skin growth is a wart, as some skin cancers resemble warts
- A wart that appears on your face or genitals
- Several warts
- A wart that is painful, itchy, burns or bleeds
- A weak immune system
Because HPV is contagious, you’ll want to take a few extra precautions to keep it from spreading, including:
- Avoid scratching or picking your warts.
- Always wear shoes in public places such as showers, locker rooms or pools.
- Never touch another person’s wart.
- Keep warts on the feet dry to prevent moisture from spreading the virus.
If your warts persist, are painful or if you have several warts, you should visit your dermatologist. There are many treatment options available for warts, including laser treatment or freezing, burning or cutting out the wart, among others. Your dermatologist can help you determine the best treatment option for your specific type of wart.
Since there is no permanent cure for HPV, warts can redevelop. In this case, its best to have your dermatologist treat the new wart as soon as it appears. Warts are a common and frustrating condition affecting both children and adults. Contact our office today and learn how you can wipe out your warts!