What Causes a Wart?

A wart occurs when an infection from the human papillomavirus, or HPV, causes skin cells to grow at an accelerated pace. While there are dozens of strains of HPV in existence, only about ten varieties cause skin warts. Certain other strains cause genital warts and anal warts. There are types of sexually-transmitted HPV that are connected to genital cancers, but the HPV strains that cause skin warts are almost always benign.

People tend to come into contact with the HPV over the course of any normal day, shaking hands with people who are infected, or touching objects that they have touched, say, in gyms, locker rooms or communal bathrooms. Children tend to be particularly vulnerable to these infections, as well as people with weakened immune systems. For reasons that haven’t entirely been understood, people who come into direct contact with animal flesh in the meat, fish and poultry industries, tend to be prone, as well.

Skin warts, while they can spread through the touch, aren’t very contagious. Usually, transmission only occurs when the virus is passed on through broken skin. Warts can spread through contact among different parts of the body in the same person, as well. For this reason, when you use a file or pumice stone on a wart on one part of the body, it’s best to not use it on another part of the body.

What Types of Warts are There?

Warts come in different kinds. Common warts tend to form dark-colored bumps, to be rough to the touch, and to usually appear on the hands. When they form in or around the nails of the fingers or the toes, they can be especially difficult to treat.

Plantar warts form on the soles of the feet, and are driven inside the skin by the weight of the body placed on the soles. They tend to be rough patches of skin, colored gray or brown.

Flat warts tend to be smaller than other kinds of warts, and appear smooth and light-colored, either flat or slightly raised.

How to Treat a Wart

Since warts are caused by viruses, these infections do not behave the way bacterial infections do. There is usually no clear pattern in which the infection progresses, and for this reason, there is no clear way in which to catch it and treat it. Warts tend to be far less predictable than bacterial infections. The HPV, once it is transmitted to a person’s skin, resides in the top layer, and may or may not be immediately active. It unpredictably produces warts sometimes for reasons that haven’t been understood yet. Even when a wart does go away, the virus still lives in the epidermis of the skin, in dormant form.

Research indicates that about half the time, warts do go away on their own in a year. Two out of three times, they go away on their own in under two years. For this reason, when you get a wart, to wait and watch is a definite option. Some doctors, however, recommend wart removal as soon as they appear because leaving them where they are could cause them to spread through the touch and other forms of contact. If you would like to treat your warts as soon as they appear, you have a number of options.

Treating warts with salicylic acid

Salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin, makes for an excellent first choice when you attempt to treat warts. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in August 2011 found salicylic acid to be topical treatment that performed better than a placebo. Salicylic acid has nearly no side-effects, and is available in over-the-counter gels and patches. Products tend to be available in various strengths up to 40 percent. The thicker the skin that you need to treat, the higher the strength that you get. To use salicylic acid, all you need to do is to soak the part of the body with the wart, in water to soften the skin, wear down the dead skin with an emery board, and apply. Applying once or twice a day for three months is usually adequate. If you use a patch, it stays in place for longer durations. It is advisable to continue treating the area with salicylic acid for a couple of weeks even once the wart goes away. Doing this can help prevent reappearance. Salicylic acid is effective about 50 percent of the time.

Cryotherapy to remove warts

Applying cryotherapy to warts involves freezing them with liquid nitrogen that is cooled to very low temperatures. Liquid nitrogen, which can get colder than -300°F, burns and destroys the skin it is applied to, causing a certain amount of pain and blistering. Getting weekly treatments for two to three weeks usually helps. Cryotherapy tends to be particularly effective on warts on the hands.

Electrodesiccation and curettage for wart removal

Known colloquially as zapping and cutting, this wart removal procedure involves going to a clinic to have a wart electrically dried, and then cut away with a curette instrument. This form of treatment is highly effective, but it isn’t appropriate for the soles of the feet.

Using other forms of chemical intervention for warts

When warts don’t respond to regular treatments, it may be a good idea to ask a dermatologist for treatment with prescription drugs. Imiquimod is an immunotherapy medication that is applied topically. It activates an allergic response in the body that clears the wart away. Another approach, termed intralesional immunotherapy, involves injecting the wart with a skin test antigen. Topical drugs such as fluorouracil and bleomycin are known to work, as well, even if they aren’t thought to be very effective.

Wrapping Up Wart Removal Orlando

Some forms of skin cancer can appear at first in the form of warts. If you develop warts in your 50s, and they seem to change in size, shape or color, or seem to bleed, visiting a clinician is a good idea. If your warts don’t seem to do any of these things, however, and if they cause you no trouble, you could simply wait and watch. Or if you would like to get a wart removed in Orlando give us a call!