Warts are a very common issue, especially among children who have not yet developed an immunity to the virus that causes these growths. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers have plenty of experience treating and removing warts. Patients in Oregon and Washington can schedule an appointment at one of our many locations for effective wart treatment.
What are Warts?
Warts are benign growths that are the result of a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. They are typically grainy or rough and may be pink, white, tan or flesh colored. Often, warts will also have small dark pinpoints, which are clotted blood vessels. Warts most often develop on the hands or feet, as they spread through contact with the virus, but can occur anywhere on the body.
What Causes Warts?
Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). They are most likely to develop if the virus comes in contact with a cut or other forms of damage in the skin and can develop months after contact with HPV. Warts spread through either skin-to-skin contact or contact with objects such as towels that were handled by someone with the virus. They are more common in children, as young patients have not yet developed an immunity to the virus, or among those with weakened immune systems, including those undergoing medical treatments that require immunosuppressant drugs and patients with HIV/AIDS.
Wart Treatment Options
Prior to your wart treatment, you should be prepared to share information regarding your personal health and any home remedies you may have attempted with your provider. This includes any medications that you take as well as a general timeline of the warts’ development.
Not all warts will require treatment, but many patients choose to have warts removed if they are persistent, painful or pose a higher risk of spreading to others. There are several treatment options available to remove warts. Your provider will begin with the least invasive or painful method possible and explain the best option based on the location or size of your wart.
Several topical treatments can be used to cause the wart to peel away from the skin. These include prescription-strength salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid. These medications work by peeling away the wart layer-by-layer. Often, they are paired with another treatment method such as cryotherapy to improve outcomes.
Cryotherapy is a process of freezing the wart using liquid nitrogen. This treatment causes a blister to form around the wart, removing the tissue from the surrounding healthy skin as the blister falls away within about a week of treatment. For some patients, this treatment option also stimulates the natural healing response, improving overall immunity to HPV and reducing any future warts.
Your provider may also recommend and minor surgery to remove the wart. This involves simply cutting the wart away from the healthy skin using a surgical tool such as a scalpel or razor. Surgical removal can be completed with local numbing or anesthesia as needed.
Finally, laser treatments are available to remove warts. This is typically only used in the case of warts that are persistent and do not respond to other options. Pulsed-dye lasers can be used to cauterize the blood vessels that supply the warts, causing the diseased tissue to die and fall away from the healthy skin.
Healing After Wart Removal
Healing after your wart removal should take approximately one or two weeks.
After treatment using salicylic acid or trichloroacetic acid, you may likely experience some burning or stinging. These side effects should quickly resolve, and the skin will begin sloughing off within a few days of your treatment.
After cryotherapy, you can expect blisters which may be discolored or painful. Follow your provider’s advice regarding caring for the affected area until the skin heals. This process should be complete within about a week of the treatment.
After surgical removal, you should follow all wound care instructions regarding the treated area. Keep the skin clean and bandaged according to your provider’s directions.
After laser treatment, you should avoid sun exposure in the affected area. You may experience minor pain and could face scarring after the skin heals.
Following your wart treatment, it is important to follow your provider’s advice to prevent any future warts from occurring. Take care with any personal grooming habits or tools, avoid picking or touching areas with warts and avoid direct contact with warts.