What is a wart?
Warts are caused by a viral infection. They belong to the family human papilloma virus (HPV). Warts are considered infectious and to be capable of spreading from one part of the body to another. However, it is not uncommon for warts to affect a single family member and for only one part of the body to be affected.
There are close to 60 differing types of wart caused by HPV and each refers to warts on a particular part of the body. The virus gets into the body through the mucus membrane or skin and it can be several months before any symptoms show. Some people suffer repeatedly from warts and others may have one and never see another. This is due to different tolerances for HPV in individuals.
Commonly, warts are seen on the hands, feet, and genitals. Hand warts are common because of the frequency of damage to the skin of fingers and hands, which allows the virus access. Foot warts appear for similar reasons, usually on areas of the foot where repeated pressure causes damage to the skin. Foot warts are known as ‘Plantar’s warts’, a reference to the plantar area of the foot. Genital warts are a form of STD (sexually transmitted disease) and are highly contagious. For advice on genital warts, try this link.
How are warts treated?
The ‘magic ingredient’ for warts is salicylic acid. Most wart removal products are based around this acid, which dissolves the keratin (protein) which forms a large part of every wart and the dead skin involved. Lotions, creams and plasters and pads are all used in this method of treatment. The wart and dead skin usually drops off after treatment but there are two points to remember.
1 – The chemicals involved are strong and may damage surrounding skin
2 – People with diabetes or heart conditions should not self-treat with these products. See your doctor.
You can now buy over-the-counter version of freeze sprays to treat warts. In the past, this was always done by a medical professional and known as cryosurgery. The new sprays freeze the wart at -70F, whereas getting the wart professionally frozen will use temperatures of -320F. The frozen wart can take some time to drop off, up to 14 days.
The effectiveness of over-the-counter water freezing treatments is debatable. Some people swear by them, others say they do not work. If in doubt, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Another professional method available from your doctor goes by the term electrocautery. A needle is inserted into the wart and the electricity in the needle kills the wart by burning it. The dead wart can then be peeled off. Laser surgery is also available for this method.
If none of these ideas appeals you have another couple of options. You can go for the ‘Ignore it, it’ll disappear one day’ method. Left alone, warts will eventually disappear, but it might take months or years for this to happen.
Or you can take a look at this link and some of the alternative, natural remedies for warts.
Remember, warts may be unsightly, but they are not generally harmful and can be left alone if you don’t want to treat them.