We see a variety of skin conditions at Cahaba Dermatology, but warts are one of the most common things we treat. This is because at some point in our lives, most of us have had a wart. And we know through experience that over-the-counter treatments and other self treatments rarely work. That’s why we offer a wide variety of successful treatment options for wart removal. And we are able to customize these treatments for each patient’s specific situation in both our Tuscaloosa and Birmingham offices.
WHAT ARE WARTS?
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection (Human Papilloma Virus) in the top layer of the skin. They are passed on from person to person and can occur almost anywhere on the body. They are typically between a grayish or flesh color and include black dots that resemble seeds. (This is where they get the common nickname “seed” warts. The black dots are not actually seeds, but rather blood.) Many warts are asymptomatic, but in areas like the soles of the feet, they can be very painful.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WARTS?
The different types of warts are determined by their appearance as well as where they grow on the body. There are common warts, genital warts, plantar warts (on the foot), and flat warts.
Common Warts are usually a rough bump most often found on the fingers, the back of the hand, or on the fingertip areas around the nails. The wart site is usually where the skin has been broken. The wart may also have black dots that many refer to as “seeds.” These seeds, as mentioned above, are actually blood spots.
Genital Warts are small scattered bumps that look like cauliflower and are generally darker than the skin. They are found in the genital area and can itch, hurt, or bleed. Genital warts are a result of intimate skin contact with a person who has HPV.
Plantar Warts are usually found on the bottoms of your feet. These may also appear to have black dots and usually hurt when walked on, as if you have a small rock or pebbles in your shoe. A plantar wart can be caused by the virus entering a small break in the skin. One way to prevent them is by wearing flip flops in public showers and locker rooms.
Flat Warts can be found just about anywhere on the body. They can be on your face and can occur in areas that are regularly shaved, like the lower area of the face or anywhere on the legs. They are smaller, smoother, and tend to grow in greater numbers on the skin than other warts.
WHAT TREATMENTS FOR WARTS ARE AVAILABLE?
The treatments for skin warts include prescription creams applied daily, oral medications that activate the immune system, freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, laser treatments, or an injection of medication into the wart itself. At Cahaba Dermatology, our goal is complete wart removal.
WHAT CAUSES WARTS?
Warts are caused by a viral infection called Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, which is transmitted through physical touch. There are over 100 strains of HPV, and it’s important to understand that warts are contagious, but everyone’s system responds differently.
HOW LONG DOES WART REMOVAL TAKE?
Treating a wart will usually require multiple visits with the doctor. With each treatment the warts will become shallower and smaller in diameter as the virus causing the warts is destroyed. It is common for warts to take three to five treatment sessions before they are gone.
CAN WARTS BE CURED?
Getting rid of warts can be very difficult, and that’s because we don’t currently have anything to kill the virus. There are numerous treatments for warts, like medication, freezing, and even wart removal via minor surgery, but none of them actually kill the virus. And since there isn’t a way to kill the virus, many of the treatments rely on boosting the immune system as a way to help your body get rid of the virus on its own.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Usually, patients try over-the-counter methods like salicylic acid and freezing devices, and sometimes, they work. When patients come into the office with warts, we usually freeze it with liquid nitrogen and recommend OTC salicylic acid or topical compounds in between freezing sessions.
Wart removal via freezing is also a treatment option. Cryosurgery is a quick procedure that may take a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the type and number of lesions treated. Liquid nitrogen (at –321F) is used and may be sprayed onto or applied directly to the lesion with a Q-tip or other instrument. Most patients experience some discomfort immediately during and after the procedure. This generally fades quickly.
If these treatments don’t work, there are injectable medications used to fight the virus. The two most commonly used in our office are Candida (yeast) and the MMR vaccine. These are injected directly into the warts, usually in a series of three or four. In fact, a recent study showed that the MMR vaccine could even be considered a first line of defense treatment against warts because of its high clearance rates.
Other treatment options include using a laser directed at cutting off blood supply and removal of the wart by shaving it off. Excision is also an additional treatment option, where removal takes place by the doctor cutting it off/out.
If you are seeking treatment for warts or wart removal in the Birmingham area, contact Cahaba Dermatology today to set up an appointment. Give us a call at 205-214-7546 or use the link at the top of this site to book an appointment at either our Tuscaloosa or Birmingham office.