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What to Do about a Wart

Common warts are caused by the HPV virus.  If your immune system is strong, they may disappear on their own. It is important to note that warts are contagious.  You should keep them covered up until they go away can help to prevent the spread of the virus that causes them. There are a number of treatment options for warts.  Here is everything you need to know about warts, including what they are, what causes them, and how to get rid of them.

A Strong Immune System Helps Prevent Warts

Strengthen the immune system by taking Vitamin C (500mg twice a day), getting over 7 hours of sleep a night, and eating garlic, ginger, broccoli and other foods that boost immune system function.  Strengthening the immune system will help protect your skin from viruses, fungi, and bacterial infections.  Because warts are contagious, wear shoes or flip flops in public places such as swimming pools, public showers and hotel rooms.  Warts are a common occurrence in high school kids, so feet should be covered in school gyms, dressing rooms and showers. They can be spread in pedicure baths.  Speak to a STS approved doctor about products to put on the skin to protect it from contracting viruses and bacteria.

What Does a Wart Look Like?

What Does a Wart Look Like?

Common warts are hard bumps that most often appear on the hands and feet. They start out as a pinpoint bump and slowly increase in diameter. They can be flesh-colored, pink, white, or tan, and often have one or more black dots.  The surface is rough and spiky- which is described as “verrucous” or wart-like.  Even though these are quite common and can resolve on their own, it’s a good idea to have warts checked by a dermatologist to make sure that this is an accurate diagnosis.  In some cases skin cancers can be confused with warts and other benign lesions by nondermatologists.  Seeing a dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis is prudent.  You can find one at AAD.org.

 

 

What Causes Warts?

Common warts are caused by a virus in the human papilloma (HPV) family. They are distinct from genital warts, which are caused by two specific strains of the HPV virus: HPV 6 and HPV 11. For this reason, the genital wart vaccine Gardasil, does not protect you from common warts. The common warts that you typically see on hands and feet are caused by HPV types 1, 2, and 4. In many cases, adults have built up enough immunity to these strains that warts become less common in adulthood than in childhood.  

Because warts are caused by a virus, they can be transmitted through contact and should and be covered by shoes (if on the feet) and covered by a bandage until they are resolved.

It is difficult to determine exactly when and where you contracted the virus that causes warts because the virus is ubiquitous and it can take up to a year before a wart is visible on the surface of your skin.

Are warts dangerous?

Common warts are not considered a sexually transmitted disease and have not been associated with cervical and throat cancer like the HPV 6 and HPV 11 strains are.  We do not currently have any evidence that they lead to cancer.  However, there is still a lot that is not known about warts so treating them in a timely fashion is prudent.

How to Get Rid of a Wart

You can find a number of do-it-yourself treatments to help you get rid of your warts faster. Most of these treatments contain salicylic acid that helps exfoliate the thickened dead layers of skin on the top of the wart. Salicylic acid does not kill the virus that causes warts- it only treats the symptom of thickened skin.  SA treatments can take several weeks to improve the appearance of the wart but it is your immune system that is killing the virus.

Freezing the wart in order to destroy the affected cells is a better method of treating warts. There are some at-home freeze-away wart treatments that you can purchase at your local drugstore, but these may require several treatments before they begin to work. They are not as cold as the Liquid Nitrogen dermatologists use in their office. You should visit your dermatologist for medical treatments to treat the common wart.  Your doctor may use liquid nitrogen, laser, or a topical prescription medication called imiquimod, or a combination of these treatments.  The liquid nitrogen treatments are the most commonly used (because it is covered by insurance) but it is slightly painful, causes a blister, and usually takes multiple treatment sessions (3-6) spaced a few weeks apart in order to be effective. The fastest way to get rid of a wart is by using laser technology such as the 595nm VBeam by Syneron. Lasers work by targeting the affected cells with laser energy (heat), which effectively kills the HPV virus without causing a blister or downtime. This is your costliest option, though, so you’ll need to weigh the benefits against the cost to determine which treatment makes the most sense for you. Laser treatment of warts is not FDA approved and is not covered by insurance. Laser is less painful with no downtime but is more expensive. (usually $250 a session)  Usually 1-2 laser sessions are required and they take about 5 minutes.

Imiquimod is a prescription topical antiviral ointment that was invented to treat genital warts.  It can be applied topically twice a day.

Most dermatologists use the treatments in combination to speed results.  Using a topical antiviral spray in the shoes may help prevent progression of the virus. Take Vitamin C supplements to boost your immune system. Discuss these options with your doctor.  You can easily find a treatment that matches your pain tolerance, budget and schedule.

Bottom Line

Warts are contagious and should be kept covered and treated as soon as possible to prevent spread. They can be misdiagnosed so it is important to see your dermatologist.  Your dermatologist can also recommend both at-home treatments, prescription medications and in office procedure options to help you get rid of your warts more quickly.

 

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If you’re looking to start with skincare products to help improve your complexion, you’ll need to know which of the 16 Baumann Skin Types you are in order to choose the most appropriate products. To find a doctor in your area who can diagnose your Baumann Skin Type click here.   Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through Derm.net.

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