What Causes Warts?
Warts are harmless
skin growths caused by a virus. Warts can grow on any part of the body e.g. on
the face, along the forearms or on the fingers. Warts have a rough surface on
which tiny, dark dots can often be seen. On pressure areas like the palms or
the soles, they appear flat. Warts on the sole (called plantar warts) grow
inward from the pressure of standing and walking and are often painful.
Warts are common and
can be a nuisance. They may bleed if injured. Common warts are not known to
turn cancerous. Warts are contagious, and may spread from one part of the body
to another or to other people. We do not know why some people get warts while
others do not. There is no way to prevent coming into contact with the virus that
Warts may disappear
on their own and no treatment may be needed, especially in young children. This
spontaneous healing is less common in older children and adults. Warts on the
genitalia are usually sexually acquired.
There is no perfect
treatment for warts. Treatment consists of destroying the outer layer of skin
where the wart grows on. This can be done by surgery (including excision,
electrocautery and carbon dioxide laser), cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen)
or with topical applications like salicylic acid, 5 fluorouracil and imiquimod.
The doctor will decide on the method of treatment depending on the location and
size of the warts. Sometimes new warts can develop while existing ones are
being destroyed. We will continue to treat until all warts are clear. In patients
whose warts do not respond to the usual treatment, the doctor may offer various
forms of immunotherapy (MMR, Gardasil, DCP).
No matter what treatment is
used, warts occasionally fail to disappear. Warts may return weeks or even
months after an apparent cure. There is no need to worry if a wart recurs; just
consult your dermatologist for further therapy. The treatment may be repeated,
or a different method may be used to get rid of the warts.
Liquid Nitrogen Treatment
Liquid nitrogen is
the most common treatment method used for warts at this centre. Your wart and the
surrounding skin becomes extremely cold when the liquid nitrogen is applied
during treatment. Occasionally this may result in the formation of a blister,
which is normal. There may be temporary pain which can be eased with
painkillers, if necessary.
There is no need to cover the
treated areas if the blisters are intact. Should there be a painful blister, you
may prick it with a sterile needle. A simple dressing may be necessary if the
skin is broken.
There is no need to apply any
medications other than those prescribed.
At least a week must lapse
between treatments, even if a blister does not form.