Warts are benign/non-cancerous skin growths caused by an infection to the top layer of skin by a type of human papilloma virus (HPV). Warts usually appear on the hands or feet but can also affect other areas of the body. There are over 150 human papilloma viruses that can cause warts. The virus is believed to enter the body through skin that has been cut or damaged in some way. Warts are contagious and can be spread by contact with the wart or something that has touched the wart.
Risk of infection can be increased by a low immune system, eczema, or the use of public showers. Warts are typically small, skin colored, and feel rough to the touch but in some instances they can appear dark, flat, and smooth. There are several types of warts including: common warts (verruca vulgaris), foot warts (plantar warts), flat warts, filiform warts, and genital warts.
The removal of warts may include the use of topical medications. One topical treatment is the use of salicylic acid which softens abnormal skin cells and dissolves them. A blistering agent known as Cantharone (cantharidin) may also be used. Cantharone is a topical that causes the skin under the wart to blister, lifting the wart off the skin. When the blister dries, the wart falls off with the blistered skin.
The majority of wart removals involve simple procedures performed in our office. Cryotherapy or freezing is the most common treatment for warts in adults and older children if quick removal is desired. Electrosurgery is another option for immediate wart removal. It involves passing a high frequency electric current through the wart. The tissue is destroyed by the heat generated by the electric current and the wart is removed.
There are no cures for the viruses that cause warts. Warts may return in the same spot or appear in a new one. In some instances, it can seem that new warts appear as soon as the old one has been removed. To prevent this, Dr. Ulmer has developed a unique, painless triple treatment method.