How to get rid of warts

warts

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Have you experienced finding a grainy, callus-looking growth on any part of your body? Especially when you don’t take a good look at it, you’d pick on it thinking it’s a blackhead. When it doesn’t come off, you check it more closely this time. Now you’re able to confirm something you quite dread: the appearance of an unsightly wart on your skin.

But don’t fret. Warts are fairly common and are bound to occur to any person at some point. There are tons of in-office wart treatments and at-home remedies. Read on to find out more about warts and how to prevent them. 

What are warts?

Warts – also known in its medical term as verruca – are growths that appear on areas of the skin and body. They are the result of a viral infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus targets the basal layer of the epidermis which, once having entered through a cut or break in the skin barrier, will reproduce rapidly and incorporate its DNA into the infected skin cells. 

The cells begin to mature and divide more rapidly than normal, forming a bump of thickened, hard, and infected skin cells which is what we see as a wart. 

Warts are benign (noncancerous) and often disappear on their own over time, but they are contagious. 

Why do you get warts?

Warts occur in your body because of your direct contact with the contagious HPV. It can be person-to-person or contact with contaminated surfaces. They are most likely to occur in areas nicked by shaving and can multiply and spread to other areas of the body. Surprisingly, it can take up to a year for the wart to appear for the first time.

Some warts are sexually transmitted and can grow in your private region. These warts, however, are cancerous unlike ordinary skin warts. 

Types of warts

Warts vary in structure, color, and location. The most common types are:

  • Plantar: flesh-colored or light brown lumps with small clotted blood vessels that look like tiny black dots. They appear on the soles of the feet and are usually flattened from standing and walking. The constant pressure on the feet makes them the most painful type.
  • Genital:  flesh-colored, pink, or red cauliflower-like growths that appear in the pubic area, on/in the genitals, in or around the anus. They are caused by sexual contact and often appear in clusters of three or four. They usually are not painful, although they may cause discomfort, bleeding and itching. They can cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis and anus.
  • Flat: smoother, flatter, and smaller warts that are often painless and commonly found on the face of children or legs of grown women.
  • Common: appear as raised bumps resulting from hyperkeratosis or the thickening and hardening of the outer layer of skin. They’re painless warts most often found on the hands. 
  • Filiform: long, thin warts that usually appear on your eyelids, armpits or neck.
  • Pedunculated: cauliflower-like bumps that appear on the head and neck, scalp and beard
  • Mosaic: grow in clusters and are most common on the hands and feet.

Can I cut off a wart?

To remove warts, some people cut them off using knives and tweezers. But be advised that cutting can lead to worsening of the infection unless done by a doctor through excision. 

What is the fastest way to get rid of warts?

Practitioners attempt to treat warts quickly but most methods require multiple treatments which include:

  • Cantharidin: an extract of a blister beetle that when applied to the skin forms a blister around the bump which lifts the wart off the skin .
  • Duct tape: seals off the wart and stop the HPBV from infecting other areas. Its adhesive layer lifts off the top layer of the wart as you peel the duct tape off.
  • Liquid or gel: involves applying a liquid or gel containing salicylic acid or lactic acid (wart paint) to the wart. It may come as a prescription especially for stronger solutions.

How do you get rid of warts naturally?

Before you start making warts go away, consult a dermatologist first for medical advice. To treat warts without a lot of medical intervention, here are some recommended ways :

  • Acupuncture: involves the insertion of thin needles into meridian points on the body. It has immune-boosting properties which may be responsible for the benefits. 
  • Salicylic acid: can be obtained from over-the-counter wart treatments. It gradually dissolves the wart tissue when applied on a regular basis.
  • Apple cider vinegar:  contains acetic acid that can kill some types of bacteria and viruses on contact. It works like salicylic acid by burning and slowly destroying the infected skin, causing the wart to fall off. It also stimulates your immune system’s ability to fight the wart-causing virus.

FAQ's

Most frequent questions and answers
  • Immunotherapy: lengthy and itchy treatments that allow the immune system to recognise and destroy the cells that are infected with the wart virus.
  • Minor surgery: destroys the base of the wart using an electric needle.
  • Freezing (Cryotherapy): uses liquid nitrogen which is sprayed on the wart to freeze it. It forms a blister around the wart which peels the dead tissue off the skin within one to two weeks. In some cases, it can be painful and may not freeze the wart deep enough to be effective. 
  • Paring: involves cutting, scraping, or “paring” the top layers of the warts using a blade or a curette. 
  • Laser surgery: utilizes an intense beam of light to burn and destroy wart tissue.
  • Injectables: involves the use of Bleomycin to treat stubborn warts that are not responding to other kinds of treatments by interfering with the production of infected cells.

To reduce your risk of common warts, dermatologists recommend the following:

  • Avoid direct contact with warts including your own.
  • Do not pick or scratch at warts.
  • Do not go barefoot in public showers, locker rooms, and pool area.
  • Don’t share towels with another person.
  • Consider the use of bandages for covering warts . 
  • Do not touch someone’s wart.
  • Wash your hands if they come into direct contact with your wart
  • Never brush, comb, clip, or shave an area where warts are present. 
  • Keep foot warts dry, as warts are harder to control in moist environments 
  • Don’t use the same nail tools or pumice stone as those with infected feet and hands 
  • Don’t bite your fingernails as warts occur more often in skin that has been broken.
  • Get the HPV vaccine like Gardasil.

Genital warts require more precautionary steps including:

  • Abstaining from sexual contact with anyone who has genital warts
  • Using condoms during sexual activity
  • Minimizing sexual activity especially with people with multiple partners

Bottom line

Warts usually disappear within a year or two. But there are those that continue to persist or grow despite treatment, and they should be examined by your doctor since some skin cancers can masquerade as warts.

They might resemble warts at first, but get some diagnosis or treatment if they start bleeding or growing quickly.

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