A wart is a generally small, rough, cauliflower-like growth, typically on hands and feet. Warts are common and contagious, and are caused by a viral infection, specifically by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). They typically disappear after a few months but can last for years and can recur. A few Papilloma viruses are known to cause cancer. more...
Treatments that may be prescribed by a medical professional include:
- Aldara™ (Imiquimod) topical cream, that not only clears up the wart but helps the immune system fight the virus without the pain of having the wart burned, frozen or cut off. It is indicated for genital warts but has been prescribed effectively to clear up other kinds of warts as well.
- Cryosurgery, which involves freezing the wart, after which the wart and surrounding dead skin falls off by itself.
- Cryosurgery followed by surgically removing the infected spot.
- Treatment with chemical compounds, containing salicylic acid, blistering agents, or immune system modifiers
- Laser treatment
None of these treatments are very effective on single uses; the wart often returns after the skin has healed from the treatment, but repeated treatment should rid the wart permanently. As they disappear after a few months and maximally a few years, treatment is necessary only if the lesions are painful or are a cosmetic problem.
There are also several over-the-counter options. The most common one involves salicylic acid. These products are readily available at most drugstores and supermarkets. There are typically two types of products: adhesive pads treated with salicylic acid, or a bottle of concentrated salicylic acid. Removing a wart with this method requires a strict regimen of cleaning the area, applying the salicylic acid, and removing the dead skin with a pumice stone or emery board. It may take up to 12 weeks to remove a stubborn wart.
Another over-the-counter product that can aid in wart removal is silver nitrate in the form of a Caustic Pencil, which is also available at drug stores. This method generally takes three to six daily treatments to be effective. The instructions must be followed to minimize staining of skin and clothing.
Over-the-counter cryosurgery kits are also available.
Like prescription treatments, over-the-counter treatments usually require multiple applications, and are only necessary if the warts are problematic. Additionally, these treatments are capable of destroying healthy skin as well as warts, so caution must be exercised by those attempting them without medical supervision.
The duct tape method involves placing a piece of duct tape (or medical tape) over the affected area for a week at a time. The procedure is otherwise identical to that of using salicylic acid adhesive pads. A study found that the duct tape method was 85% effective, compared to a 60% success rate in the study's cryotherapy group.
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