Warts

Warts are a common viral infection. They are most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts can occur at all ages. However, they occur most frequently in older children and infrequently in the elderly. Warts may be single or multiple. Location and size varies. Warts can be spread by scratching the wart and then scratching normal skin. The life cycle of warts varies. However, most will disappear over many months to a couple years. Warts commonly do not cause problems (asymptomatic) unless they are over an area of pressure, such as the bottom of the foot. If they are large enough, they may cause pain with walking.

DIAGNOSIS

Warts are most commonly diagnosed by their appearance. Tissue samples (biopsies) are not required unless the wart looks abnormal. Most warts have a rough surface, are round, oval, or irregular, and are skin-colored to light yellow, brown, or gray. They are generally less than ½ inch (1.3 cm), but they can be any size.

TREATMENT

  • Observation or no treatment.

  • Freezing with liquid nitrogen.

  • High heat (cautery).

  • Boosting the body's immunity to fight off the wart (immunotherapy using Candida antigen).

  • Laser surgery.

  • Application of various irritants and solutions.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Follow your caregiver's instructions. No special precautions are necessary. Often, treatment may be followed by a return (recurrence) of warts. Warts are generally difficult to treat and get rid of. If treatment is done in a clinic setting, usually more than 1 treatment is required. This is usually done on only a monthly basis until the wart is completely gone.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

The treated skin becomes red, puffy (swollen), or painful.