What Are Warts?
We all know what they look like and how uncomfortable they are, but what are they?
A wart is a skin growth which is caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus can get under your skin through cracks in the top layer and produce these growths as it spreads rapidly. In most cases, warts will go away after about a month. They can grow all over the body, but they have different names depending on where they are located.
Common vs. Plantar Warts
The two most common warts are referred as “common warts” and “plantar warts.” The main difference between the two is that common warts usually appear on your hands while plantar warts are generally found on your feet, usually on the soles.
Common warts are usually dome-like in shape and have color combinations of brown and gray.
Plantar warts are hard looking and thick patches of skin with dark colored speckles in them. Sometimes plantar warts can form in clusters known as a mosaic wart.
Warts Can Spread
One reason warts can be such a major concern is that they are highly contagious. This goes for both common and plantar warts. Because of HPV, warts can easily spread to other parts of your body which you have touched.
They can even spread to other people who have been in direct contact either with the person who is infected with HPV or through common objects such as towels and razors. Contact isn’t a guarantee that you will instantly develop warts through someone who has them, but it is a good idea to take some precautions to eliminate the threat of infection.
Do Warts Hurt?
Generally, warts are painless. But if they are located on a surface of an area which you commonly use, such as a hand or the sole of your foot, then this can be a bit problematic. The pressure which is put on the wart can cause pain and discomfort. This is why plantar warts are generally a bit more uncomfortable than common warts. While most of the time it is easy to tell that you have a wart, it is always suggested to see a doctor to be 100% positive that it is, in fact, a wart and not some other type of blemish or skin condition.
In most cases, warts aren’t really dangerous and go away within thirty days or so, but there are a few treatment methods available for those who are bother by the way they look or if the wart is in a location which is causing it to spread to other spots. You should also seek treatment if the wart has been persistent for over a month. There has been documentation of cases where warts lasted up to two years.
– Peeling medicine such as salicylic acid can help you get rid of unwanted warts. Look for a 15% or 17% solution of salicylic acid. You will have to use this acid daily. The best-known way is to soak the affected area in water, then apply the solution to the wart. After everything dries, we suggest you file the dead skin away either with a pumice stone or emery board. We strongly suggest that whatever you use for filing the dead flesh is disposable and thrown away post use so that you are not spreading the virus by accident.
– In some situations, using an over the counter freezing product can be very effective to remove warts. There are a variety of different products out there that consist of liquid nitrogen, which essentially freezes the flesh infected by the virus, namely the wart itself. Once all the cells are dead the wart simply falls off. If you do decide to use this method, please make sure you read the directions carefully and stay away from any oven flames or high heat sources. Some of the products designed for wart removal can be flammable.
– This is the oddest method we have come across, but it has been known to be effective in some cases: Duct Tape. The directions for this method are simple. Cover the wart with duct tape for 6 days, then remove it and soak the area in water. Afterward, cautiously remove any dead skin with an emery board or pumice stone. Once again, make sure they are disposable. Repeat the process over and over again until the wart is completely gone. Keep in mind that sometimes this method does not work.
– While over the counter salicylic acid can be very effective; sometimes it is simply not enough. Your doctor might choose to use a prescription level salicylic acid which has higher acidity content. There also have been reports that using salicylic acid alongside freezing treatment has been shown to be very promising.
– Cryotherapy is basically a more advanced version of the over the counter freezing treatments which can be bought at a pharmacy. The difference is that throughout the cryotherapy sessions the doctor will use direct applications of liquid nitrogen to the affected area, which causes blisters to form underneath the warts. The result is that the dead tissue around the wart and within the wart itself falls off within a week. Sometimes multiple treatments are necessary.
– There are other acids which can be used to get rid of warts if salicylic acid or cryotherapy isn’t working. Both bichloroacetic and trichloroacetic acids can be used to kill warts. The doctor will shave a small part of the wart away and use a wooden toothpick to apply the acid. Most of the time you will need to repeat this treatment on a weekly basis until the wart is gone.
– Finally, your doctor might suggest using laser treatment. The idea here is to cauterize the small blood vessels inside the wart to cut off blood flow. This will eventually kill the infected tissue and the wart will fall off. This treatment may leave scarring and can cause some pain. We have also found that the effectiveness of this method is questionable, so please use it as a last resort.
No matter what type of a wart you might be affected by, there are plenty of treatments out there for you to choose from. From our review, it would appear that the freezing method and salicylic acid yield the best results when used in combination. You may wish to give this a try before any other method. Before you do anything at all, consult with your doctor to ensure that you are, in fact, dealing with a wart. Your doctor will be able to confirm your diagnosis and help you to decide the best possible treatment.