Warts are a common medical dermatology issue. They are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of your skin, called human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are usually skin-colored and feel rough to the touch, but they can be dark, flat, and smooth as well. The appearance of warts varies, depending on where they’re growing.
Warts are passed from person to person, sometimes indirectly.
Some people get warts depending on how often they are exposed to the virus. Wart viruses occur more easily if the skin has been damaged in some way, which explains the high frequency of warts in children who bite their nails or pick at hangnails.
As warts are a common dermatology concern, due to their appearance and discomfort, it’s important to understand which type you have and which types of medical skin care products and treatments are available.
Common warts usually grow on the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands. They are more common where skin has been broken, for example where fingernails are bitten or hangnails picked. These are often called “seed” warts because the blood vessels to the wart produce black dots that look like seeds.
Foot warts are usually on the soles (plantar area) of the feet and are called plantar warts. When plantar warts grow in clusters they are known as mosaic warts. Most plantar warts do not stick up above the surface like common warts because the pressure of walking flattens them and pushes them back into the skin. Like common warts, these warts may have black dots.
Flat warts are smaller and smoother than other warts. They tend to grow in large numbers – 20 to 100 at any one time. They can occur anywhere, but in children they are most common on the face. In adults they are often found in the beard area of men and on the legs of women.
Genital warts may be small, flat, flesh-colored bumps or tiny, cauliflower-like bumps. In men, genital warts can grow on the penis, near the anus, or between the penis and the scrotum. In women, genital warts may grow on the vulva and perineal area, in the vagina and on the cervix. Genital warts vary in size and may even be so small that you can’t see them. They can lead to cancer of the cervix in women or cancer of the penis in men.
Cryotherapy (freezing) is generally preferred. Our skin care experts apply liquid nitrogen, a very cold liquid, to the wart with a spray gun. This freezes the wart. However, repeat treatments at 1-3-week intervals are often necessary for effective wart removal.
Electrosurgery (burning) is another alternative wart removal treatment. Electrosurgery involves numbing the wart with an anesthetic then using an electric current to cauterize (burn) the wart.
Excision of warts in the office is effective when the bulk of the wart lies below the skin’s surface (particularly in plantar warts). Deeper or multiple plantar warts may need to be excised by curettage, which involves anesthetizing the involved area, identifying and marking appropriate margins, and scooping out the warts with a specialized instrument (dermal curette) possibly in combination with acid application.
For all warts in general, topical application of salicylic acid, squaric acid, canthacur, imiquimod, veregen, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, tretinoin, and other surface peeling preparations are effective forms of wart removal.
The dermatology specialists at SkinSpeaks will inject the wart with an intralesional candida antigen or bleomycin sulfate.