Warts are rough, hard, and scaly growths that can appear anywhere on the body. They vary in size from as small as a poppy seed to as large as a pea. They also vary in color, showing up as white, tan, pink, grey, or flesh-colored. Sometimes, they contain small, black dots, which are actually tiny, clotted blood vessels under the skin.
Common warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is extremely common, and there are more than 150 different strains. Only a few, though, cause warts on the backs of your hands and your fingers, which are the most common areas they appear.
While some strains of HPV are transmitted through sexual contact, common warts spread by casual skin contact or through shared objects like a towel. The virus usually spreads through breaks in your skin, such as cuts, or even a hangnail. Biting your nails can cause the warts to spread onto your fingertips and around the nails.
Plantar warts are warts that form on the soles of your feet. Also caused by HPV, they’re easily picked up in warm, moist areas such as locker rooms and swimming pools, so you should never walk barefoot.
At Monroe Foot & Ankle Care in Jamesburg, NJ, Dr. Elliott M. Perel and his team are well versed in wart removal and want to share their knowledge with their patients. Here’s what you need to know.
Why remove warts?
Warts are not medically harmful unless they burrow under the nail bed and cause an infection. That means there’s no real need to remove them. However, warts on your hands can be quite unsightly and embarrassing, and warts on the bottom of your feet can be uncomfortable, so you may want to have them removed both for comfort and peace of mind.
The different types of wart treatments
There are a number of different types of wart treatments, some you can do at home, and others that we do here in the office.
Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen, either injected into or applied onto the wart, to freeze it off. A blister forms around the wart, which falls off in about a week. Multiple treatments provide the best results, and it can be even more effective when done in conjunction with salicylic acid treatments.
Trichloroacetic acid is a stronger acid than salicylic acid, and it can be used if the first option fails. The acid is related to the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar, which is used as an at-home remedy. It helps burn off the wart while attacking the virus that caused it.
If a still-stronger treatment is needed, Dr. Perel might use a pulsed-dye laser, which cauterizes the blood vessels, killing the tissue and causing the wart to fall off. Scarring from the treatment is a possible side effect.
Minor surgery is a good option if you want to remove the wart quickly and easily in one go. Dr. Perel numbs the area with a topical anaesthetic, then cuts the wart completely out of the skin. Scarring is minimal, and it usually fades over time.
Are you bothered by warts that are unsightly or uncomfortable? Monroe Foot & Ankle can make them disappear. Give us a call at 732-328-6798, or request an appointment online today.