Be Warts - Smart

In this "warticle" you'll find great information on warts (verruca)

What they are

They are growths on the skin or mucous membranes, appearing in all people but most commonly in kids and teens. Viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family are thought to cause these skin infections, and once infected with the virus, it will typically incubate for a few to six months and skin growth slowly develops. The virus basically hangs out in the skin's upper layers, undetected by the body's immune system.

Luckily, half of them will disappear on their own within a couple of years. The body builds up a resistance to viral infections over a period of time. Eventually (months or years) the body causes them to simply disappear. An added bonus is that if they are allowed to disappear in this fashion, chances are you won't get any more as you'd now be immune to that virus.


Common warts (verrucae vulgaris) will most often appear on hands and sometimes the feet, where they can be painful. This is especially true if they're on the soles of the feet, because they can bleed and cause pain when they're bumped. They can resemble the vegetable cauliflower and tiny black dots, which are little blood vessels, can be seen, especially after working away some of the thickened skin. Since the virus occurs in a radius around the original lesion, smaller ones will be found around the main one. A biopsy can be performed to see if there has been a progression to skin cancer. It's rare for that to happen, though.

Flat warts (verruca plana) are small, smooth, slightly raised, pink or tan colored papules with a flat top. They are mainly found on the face, arms, and legs, and can number into the hundreds on one person. I have one of these. Luckily, I only have one and not hundreds!

Thick, callused inward-growing foot or plantar warts (verruca plantaris) are found on the soles of the feet and can be quite painful. Tiny clusters of them, sometimes called "mosaic" are very stubborn and unresponsive to treatment.

Ano-genital warts (condyloma acuminata) are flesh-toned to gray in color. They grow in the mucous membranes, and range from tiny shiny papules to large cauliflower-looking growths. Most of these types are painless, but itching and burning may be experienced, and they can even develop into a more serious disease like cervical cancer. They are more difficult to control in a moist environment and those in the genital area can be removed, but there's no cure for the viral infection that causes them, meaning they may come back even after they have been removed. Those with genital warts should have them examined by a medical professional.


Treatment is based on the person's age as well as the size, number, and location of these pesky skin growths. The common ones, especially in children, do not necessarily require treatment because they often go away on their own.

Removing them from places like hands, feet or knees can be attempted with the use of an over-the-counter medication. After a bath or shower or soaking it in warm water for 10 - 15 minutes, lightly pat the skin dry with a towel then apply the medication to just the warts and let it dry. Cover it with tape to keep the medication on there. The next day, before you shower or bathe, use an emery board or pumice stone to remove the dead surface. Multiple treatments are required. To get good results, you'll have to apply the medication every day for a number of weeks.

To get them off of fingers and toes, many folks have successfully used duct tape. Yes, the staple of many a tool kit can also be added to the first aid kit. Cover the wart with it. Duct tape doesn't 'breathe' like bandages. That's probably why it works as a remedy, starving it of oxygen and changing the temperature.

Cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen (which is extremely cold) is used by dermatologists for physical destruction of these skin imperfections. It's sprayed on or applied with a cotton swab and will typically cure half of them after one treatment, but can cause pain, soreness and blistering. On the more stubborn ones, repeated liquid nitrogen treatments are required.

They can also be numbed and then removed with surgical instruments (cutting or scraping), burned, or removed with a laser.

A childhood friend of mine who had one on her finger once proudly announced to me, "They're gonna cut it off with a hot knife!"

Burning them off with a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser or electric needle often works well on small numbers of them in difficult places, but leaves scars because it also removes tissue from around it. For a more effective treatment, a pulsed dye laser can be used. The laser energy is focused directly on the affected area. Most of the laser light will bypass the skin's upper layers, and concentrate on the small blood vessels that feed the wart near the dermis. A slight stinging sensation may be experienced during the laser treatment, however, this method doesn't involve any downtime from pain, and scarring is rare.

The information provided in this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a specific question or concern about a skin problem, please consult a dermatologist.

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