Warts: The Good, Bad & Worse News
Warts. Just the word conjures up a squeamish reaction for most people. But these pesky viruses are common, affecting approximately 10% of the world population. Warts are especially common in school-aged children because their immune systems are not quite as good at preventing the virus.
Caused by a virus in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family, warts can show up anywhere on the body. They look like a blister with a rough texture, similar to a cauliflower, and they may also have small black dots which are actually blood vessels.
Good, Bad & Worse News
- The good news is that most warts will go away without any treatment.
- The bad news is that it may take a year or two for it to go away naturally.
- The worse news is that warts are very contagious, so the longer you have them, the longer you can spread them to other parts of your own body or to other people.
Back to Good News: Wart Treatment Options
There are ways to treat your wart at home or in a doctor’s office. Over-the-counter wart removal products contain salicylic acid that is carefully applied to the wart while protecting the surrounding skin. Prior to this treatment, the wart should be soaked in water. Dead tissue from the area should be removed by using a pumice stone or emery board that is only used for this purpose and not shared with anyone else. This will help prevent the spread of the wart.
If you’ve tried an at home remedy for several weeks without success, contact your doctor. A process of freezing the wart (cryotherapy) can be performed. This involves the careful application of liquid nitrogen to the wart. This process may need to be repeated several times to completely remove the wart.
Other medical options include burning, cutting off or lasering off the wart. These should only be done by a trained medical professional.
It’s important to remember that it will take time and patience for your wart to disappear. Stay consistent with your treatment regimen for the best results.
Back to Bad News
One question we hear a lot is, “Are warts contagious after treatment?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The area that was infected with the HPV virus can still be contagious during wart treatment and even after treatment. The microscopic virus must work its way out of your system and it is not always easy to know when this process is complete.
Let’s End on Good News
Even though they are contagious, common warts are not considered dangerous. You still want to make sure you are diligent about helping to prevent the spread of warts by:
- Washing your hands often, especially after treating your wart
- Try not to touch or pick at your wart
- Cover your wart
- Do not share towels or other personal items that may have touched your wart
- Wear shoes or flip-flops in public areas such as pools or public showers
If you think you have a wart and would like to discuss treatment options, the doctors at Westgate Family Physicians provide wart treatment in Spartanburg, SC. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (864) 574-0070 or click here.