Warts and all
These unsightly growths on the skin are quite common, particularly in children. Warts are caused by a virus and can go away on their own but this may take years.
There are many different types of warts and they can look different. Usually they are up to 1cm in size and may be rough or smooth. The hands, feet and knees are the most commonly affected areas. Warts can appear singly or there may be a group of warts close together.
Plantar warts are warts that occur on the soles of the feet. Instead of growing out they are slightly raised but the wart pushes back inside the foot due to the pressure of walking. Plantar warts can be very painful as it is like walking with a rock stuck to your foot. Treatment of these warts is basically the same as warts on other parts of the body.
How do warts occur?
The virus that causes warts can be spread by touching someone else’s wart. Swimming in public swimming pools and using public showers can also lead to infection. You are more likely to get warts if you have a cut or other break in the skin surface, you bite your nails or have your hands wet a lot through having them in water or being a heavy sweater.
It is always best to have your skin growth confirmed as a wart by your health care professional before you treat it. I have seen instances where skin tags and other skin conditions have been treated as warts and this is very damaging and painful to the skin.
Warts can be stubborn so persevering with treatment is important and sometimes more than one treatment needs to be tried.
Topical wart treatments are the usual first line treatment. You can buy these from the pharmacy. The most important thing to remember is that these treatments are very toxic to healthy skin.
- To protect your healthy skin around the wart either apply Vaseline to the surrounding skin or cut a wart size hole in a Band-Aid and place this over the wart to cover the healthy skin.
- Most treatments need to be used twice daily so don’t forget to use it. It can take weeks or months to get rid of a wart completely.
- After putting on the treatment let it dry, then cover it with a non-breathable strapping tape. This helps to suffocate the wart and speeds up the process.
- Every couple of days use an emery board to file away the top dead layers of the wart so that you can get down to the deeper layers. Do not use this emery board for anything else or you may spread the infection.
- The wart may become painful during treatment. If this occurs stop treatment for a few days and reassess. If the surrounding skin becomes painful get your health care professional to have a look.
Freezing therapy for warts with liquid nitrogen can be done yourself or by a Doctor or podiatrist. It can take several months for this type of treatment to work and it is often used if topical treatment has not worked. It is only done every 1-2 weeks and once again care must be taken to protect healthy surrounding skin.
Other treatments exist for genital warts and these are available from your Doctor only.
Any wart like growths on the face or genital area must not be treated without consulting and diagnosis by your Doctor.