Why should I remove a wart?
Warts are the symptoms of a viral infection, which means that they will most likely disappear on their own as soon as the virus has left your body. However, there are some common reasons why patients may want treatment for warts, whether on hands or other body parts:
- Cosmetic considerations: Some patients simply want them removed.
- The psychosocial stigma: There is a pervasive belief that warts show a lack of cleanliness.
- To decrease the spread or transmission: Warts are viral, and therefore contagious.
- To relieve symptoms: Warts can cause itching, pain, bleeding, or burning.
- To restore function: It can become difficult to use fingers that are covered with warts.
- The possible progression to cancer: This is an extremely low risk, as most warts are completely harmless.
What is the best treatment for warts?
RI Skin Doc offers many options for patients who wish to have a wart removed. These options include:
- Duct tape: The tape must be applied to the warts for 6 days and then removed. Then, you must soak the wart in warm water and rub it gently with an emery board to remove the dead tissue. This whole process must be repeated for at least 2 months, and is comparable to liquid nitrogen treatment in effectiveness.
- Imiquimod®: This immunomodulator has been approved by the FDA to treat genital warts only, but does work for most warts. It must be applied twice daily to the warts, is very expensive, and requires a long course of therapy to totally eradicate the warts.
- Virasal®: 27.5% salicylic acid in an antiviral film-forming vehicle with brush applicator for easy, precise application. Used twice daily, it helps remove the skin cells affected by the virus.
- Occlusal-HP® and Tinamed®: These over-the-counter products must be applied twice daily, after the warts are soaked and gently rubbed. This is a relatively inexpensive treatment, but it is time-consuming.
- Liquid Nitrogen (Cryotherapy): This treatment is applied to the warts to cause a blister. The blister elevates the wart virus away from the blood supply, causing the wart tissue to die. This can be painful, scarring can result, and multiple treatments are required.
- Cantharidin (an extract from the blister beetle): This product must be applied to the warts in the doctor's office and covered with an occlusive dressing, which can be removed from 2 to 8 hours after it is applied. The Cantharidin is then washed off with alcohol, and a blister results. This elevates the wart from the blood supply, causing the wart to die similarly to liquid nitrogen. This is usually painless, though it can be unsightly. Repeated treatments may be necessary.
Given the multitude of options and their effects, it’s important to consult with your dermatologist on which treatment plan is best for you. The team at RI Skin Doc is happy to discuss your wart removal with you to be sure we’re moving forward in the right direction!