Warts and treatment options

Common warts are small hard lumps most commonly seen over the skin of hands and fingers.It is so common and hence the name.Usually harmless and benign in nature,they cause significant cosmetic concern for the patient and are often treated hence.


What causes warts?

Common warts are caused by a virus and they can be transmitted by contact.Genital warts are also not that uncommon but is related to sexual exposure.

How does it spread?

Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) is the reponsible organism behind warts.Most forms are spread by skin contact or through fomites like shared towels or sheets.The spread often occurs through cuts in the skin.As mentioned earlier,genital warts found over the genital regions are spread by sexual contact and is commonly seen with other Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs).

Who does the warts catch?

Any person with decreased or poor immunity can be affected such as a HIV positive individual or those taking multiple immunity lowering drugs or long-term steroids.Genital warts occur as a consequence of high risk sexual behaviour.

What are the symptoms?

Small fleshy raised nodules often irregular to toucha and brown to black in colour,sometimes occuring in clusters over the fingers,hands,perineum are characteristic.

Who should I visit for treatment of warts?

You must visit a dermatologist ideally but a general surgeon could be the first point of contact too.


What are my treatment options?

Warts,even with specific novel modalities of treatment can take time and multiple sessions to go away but may also recur in the same individual.The various treatment options are as under:

  1. Chemical methods: This involves usage of Salicylic acid which helps in peeling of wart and adjacent skin in layers.Trichloroacetic acid is also used infrequently.

  2. Cryotherapy: Also known as freezing therapy,it involves application of liquid Nitrogen to warts.Side effects include blistering,discolouration or pain at the site.

  3. Laser treatment: Pulsed-dye laser cauterizes tiny blood vessels with the wart eventually withering off.

  4. Surgical excision: Excision of the wart with the base is done under local anaesthesia,usually on an OPD basis.

  5. Special ointments and solutions: These include agents such as Imiquimod,5-flurouracil etc.

  6. Photodynamic Therapy: A gel containing a chemical is applied over the wart which on exposure to light gets activated destroying the wart in the process.

Are there any ways to prevent wart formation?

  • Refrain from touching the warts with bare hands including yours!

  • Kindly keep aside nail clippers or filers used on the affected individual from use by others.

  • Nibbling over the skin around the nails or biting at the nails can lead to dissemination.

  • Groom with care and if possible,get an opinion from your skin expert.

  • Practice safe sex always.

  • Personal hygiene of utmost importance.

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