Warts are an unsightly skin defects which, other than being a nuisance, are mostly harmless and disappear on their own. At some point in our lives we probably all have had a wart somewhere on our bodies. However, some warts do persist and multiply. That’s when you get alarmed enough to take stronger action.
Warts are skin infections caused by viruses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. They often affect kids more than adults. They can affect any area of the body but are most attracted to warm, moist places, like small cuts or scratches on the hands, fingers, and feet. Adults may also get them on their genitals and needless to say, that must be some doubly embarrassing situation for the poor sufferer.
Warts are contagious; kids can get them from touching towels or any object used or handled by someone with a wart. Kids who pick at hangnails or bite their fingernails tend to get warts more often than kids who don’t because they can expose less-protected skin and create open areas for a virus to enter and cause the wart. Genital warts on adults may be transmitted sexually.
Although there’s no sure-fire way to prevent warts, good hygiene is your strongest defense against them. Encourage your kids to wash their hands and skin regularly and well. If your child has a cut or scratch, use soap and water to clean the area because open wounds are more susceptible to warts and other infections.
Be sure to wear waterproof sandals or flip-flops in public showers, locker rooms, and around public pools. This can help protect against plantar warts and other skin infections, like athlete’s foot.
Warts may go away on their own without any treatment, anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. If they look too ugly and embarrassing, or are painful, you may opt to have them removed.
- Over-the-counter medications: this is the least-invasive procedure and may be done at home. Use solutions or gels containing tretinoin, salicylic acid or other medications containing skin-exfoliating agents.
- Excision with Scissors/Scalpel: Dermatologists like to use this option for large warts. The warts are excised or cut off from the skin at the base.
- Cauterization/Electro-Surgery: the warts are burned off using a light electrical current
- Cryosurgery: Tweezers or forceps are used to hold and secure the warts, and then liquid nitrogen is applied to the handling tool to freeze off the warts
- Laser Surgery: This procedure is done for recalcitrant warts and is the most expensive but most comprehensive way to remove warts.