What Causes Warts and How to Treat Them
Although warts are often harmless, they can be visibly and physically bothersome. The appearance of a wart is also something that many people are concerned about, but we have a variety of medical treatments available to target the exact cause of your wart.
Warts present as a single lesion or multiple lesions on the skin which is caused by a virus. Warts are commonly seen on the hands and feet (also known as plantar warts) but can also present throughout the body, including the face. Another area these spots occur is on the genital areas, referred to as genital warts. Warts often have a rough surface with dark specks, but appearance can vary.
Since warts are caused by a virus, they are slightly contagious and can spread to other areas of the body or other people through skin-to-skin contact. Some people are more susceptible to developing warts, while others never get them. The method of treatment for warts varies greatly and can depend on several factors.
Many patients try to use at home with over-the-counter treatment options such as Compound W. After unsuccessful at-home treatment, many patients choose to see a dermatologist. At Fargo Center for Dermatology, we offer a variety of treatment options to target and treat the virus, including:
Cantharidin is one of many topical medications used to kill the wart virus. Other compound medications can be used as immunotherapy treatments.
Cryotherapy uses intense cold to freeze the wart and kill the virus. Liquid nitrogen is often used and carefully applied to the wart. An additional treatment commonly used in conjunction with cryotherapy is curettage. Curettage involves gently removing tissue within the wart using a curette prior to freezing. We also like to call this debulking because it shaves down the size of the wart.
If a wart is resistant to other treatments, laser treatment may be an effective option. Lasers can cut away the wart or burn it to destroy the cells causing the wart to resurface.
Each person’s response to treatment varies. Since there is no perfect treatment for warts, these growths generally require a series of treatments and can include more than one treatment option. Warts can be stubborn and may return weeks or months after an apparent cure, but treatment can be repeated, or a different method can be used. At your appointment, your dermatology provider will diagnose the type of wart and establish a customized treatment plan to achieve lesion-free skin.