About Wart Treatments at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
Warts are skin growths spread by direct contact with types of human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus infects the outermost layer of the skin, causing skin cells to over grow rapidly. Because HPV can infect only the top layer of skin, it can live on without causing infection. However, once it infects skin cells beneath the surface by entering the body in an area of broken skin, such as cut or scrape, a wart begins to grow.
A wart can take many months to grow before becoming visible. Depending on your immune system, your body can be more or less receptive to HPV. Because of this, a weakened immune system puts you at higher risk for the development of warts. Warts are generally less common among older demographics because they are less susceptible to HPV. Most commonly, warts appear on children and young adults.
Newer warts are more easily spread than older ones. You can re-infect yourself by exposing the wart to uninfected areas of the body, so it is important to avoid doing so to reduce the risk of spreading. Some skin conditions have similar appearance to warts, such as certain types of skin cancer, corns, skin tags, and other non-cancerous growths. It is important to see a Dermatology Associates of Atlanta provider in order to properly diagnose and care for your skin condition.
Common warts – These types grow on their own or in groups, most often on the hands but appearing anywhere on the body. They are rough, dome-shaped, and gray-brown in color.
Plantar warts – These hard, thick patches of skin appear with dark spots speckled within and grow on the soles of the feet. In some cases, plantar warts can cause discomfort when you walk that can range similarly to stepping on a small rock to shooting, sharp pain. Plantar warts can be pushed further beneath the skin’s surface by standing and engaging in physical activity such as running. As they are pushed inward, the thickening of skin causes the wart to have a callus-like appearance. Multiple plantar warts form “mosaic warts” by clustering together in a large, flattened group.
Flat warts – These flat-topped, small warts are typically spread by shaving, usually growing in clusters on the face, arms, or legs. They can appear as pink, light brown or light yellow.
Filiform warts – These growths are the same color as the skin and appear to have thick, thread-like projections. They most commonly appear around the mouth, nose, or beard area.
Periungual warts – These warts negatively affect nail growth by growing under and around the toenails and fingernails. They appear as rough bumps with an uneven surface and border.
Tiny capillaries grow into the wart’s core, keeping them alive by supplying them with blood. These tiny blood vessels are what cause some types of warts to have dark dots in their center, often referred to as seeds. Most warts go away on their own within months or years on their own. If warts are painful, spreading, or bothersome in appearance, there are a few treatment options for removal. DAA providers prioritize making treatment as comfortable as possible while remaining diligent in efforts to destroy the virus with safe and effective methods that minimize painful scarring. Treatment methods include:
- • At home methods, such as salicylic acids or suffocating the wart with Band Aids or duct tape
- • Freezing the wart with cryotherapy
- • Surgical excision with local anesthetic:
- º Electrosurgery: Burning off warts with electrical current
- º Curettage: Removal of wart with a sharp knife or small, spoon-shaped tool
- º Laser surgery: Burning off warts with an intense beam of light
Warts are spread by direct contact with human papillomavirus. If you touch your wart to another part of your body, you risk infecting that part as well. Walking barefoot in warm, damp environments such as showers and swimming pool areas can cause contraction of HPV, and subsequently warts. To avoid warts, restrict the sharing of personal items and spaces and wear shower shoes in communal areas. Keep feet dry by wearing socks that detract moisture away from the skin and keep feet from being irritated. Most notably, avoid touching the skin of those with warts.
Warts come in many shapes and sizes, some growing and spreading rapidly while others remain the same in appearance. Most warts are painless unless they are on frequently irritated areas such as the feet, legs, hands, or face. Though warts are usually unproblematic, you may feel pressure if they are on a commonly utilized area of the body. Consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis or if warts have become troublesome, causing increased pain, tenderness, discharge, or redness.
Wart treatment recovery varies depending on the method used by your dermatologist. If using a topical treatment, you may experience minimal discomfort as the wart gradually disappears. If curettage or laser therapy is used, you may experience discomfort for a few days to a several weeks. If a plantar wart is excised on an area of the foot that commonly bears weight, you may need crutches to ensure proper healing.