Warts are growths on the skin caused by a virus. The wart virus is everywhere in the environment and only requires a break in the skin to cause an infection. The wart virus is very good at hiding itself from our immune systems, and that is why once we get warts, that they take months to years to go away.
Treating warts can be frustrating. We have no good single way to treat warts, and what worked for one person, may not work for you. Most treatments attempt to destroy the tissue that the wart virus is in, although there are some unique ways to treat warts that stimulate an immune response. Listed here are the most common treatments for warts and seem to work most of the time.
This is the active ingredient in “compound W” and most over the counter wart medications. If it is applied on damp skin and under tape or the sticky part of a bandaid, it will usually be effective enough to get rid of smaller warts. Larger warts will require 40% salicylic acid plaster, which can be obtained over the counter. The key is to apply the medication, then occlude it with tape, usually overnight, and then abrading away the dead skin the next day. This is the way that the CDC recommends to treat warts.
This is most commonly used to “freeze” or “burn” warts off and has to be applied in the office. The goal is to cause a blister in the skin surrounding the wart and hopefully blister the wart off the skin. It will require more than one treatment for most warts (average 3 to 5 treatments). There is a home version of this available now.
Aldara is a relatively new medication in the treatment of warts. It works by attracting the immune cells in the body that are responsible for making warts go away to the wart. For it to work, it needs to be applied daily and the area kept relatively moist.
Some doctors will apply a substance known to cause a skin allergy on one part of your body until you develop an allergy to it. Then they will apply this substance to the warts and the allergic response will make the warts go away.
On rare occasions, this is the only option. Warts can be spread this way so it is a risky way to deal with them.
Most of the time a combination of these treatments is used to make the warts go away. Make an appointment at Greenville Dermatology to develop an effective plan for you.