Warts: Causes, Treatment, and Removal

Wart treatment, causes and removal

There’s a reason Halloween witches have a big, fat wart on the ends of their noses. Most people agree that they’re undesirable, noticeable, and embarrassing. The good news is that warts can be completely removed with the right treatment so you don’t have to deal with them the rest of your life.

Before we get into that, let’s back up for a moment. Where do warts come from and how are they treated? Here’s what you need to know to get rid of these small and unsightly skin growths once and for all.

The Cause of Warts

Warts are a type of infection caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and they can grow on all parts of your body, including your skin. The most common types of HPV tend to cause warts on your hands, fingers, and toes. Other types of warts called “flat warts” appear on the face and forehead, while “plantar warts” are found on the bottoms of the feet. Keep in mind it’s possible to pass warts on to others if they have touched a wart or if they’ve shared towels.

Wart Treatment

While skin warts often disappear on their own (even if it sometimes takes months), some warts are stubborn and show no signs of going anywhere. When they remain, they become bothersome, sometimes bleeding or causing pain when they bump against something. If this is happening to you, your next step is to get them removed by your dermatologist. Removal procedures will vary depending on a wart’s location. Here are a few common treatments we often suggest to our patients:

  • Salicylic acid: Applying salicylic acid daily on hands, feet, or knees for a few weeks is an effective treatment for wart removal. Use this treatment on towel-dried skin right after showering, as the acid can penetrate your skin more deeply when it’s damp.
  • Cantharidin: Cantharidin is a chemical that’s “painted” onto the wart by your dermatologist, and then wrapped in a bandage for 24 hours. This causes the wart to dry up, which allows your dermatologist to remove the dead skin of the wart after the waiting period.
  • Liquid nitrogen: Known as cryotherapy surgery, liquid nitrogen is applied to warts once every week or two to completely freeze them off.
  • Other treatments: If the above treatments do not work, your dermatologist may try removing your warts by burning them off, cutting them, or removing them with a laser. These treatment options have the potential to leave scars, which is why they’re normally used as last ditch effort.

Returning Warts

With proper treatment, warts are normally gone for good. Your body’s immune system also rids itself of any tiny bits of wart that may be left after treatment. If for some reason a wart comes back, talk to your dermatologist about other treatment options.

If you think you have a wart, or have been living with a wart you’re ready to part with, contact Coastal Dermatology & Surgery Center. Warts are very easy to treat and we’re happy to get you back on your feet blemish-free!