Veruca Salt : I’m Veruca Salt. It’s very nice to meet you, sir.
[does a curtsy]
Willy Wonka : I always thought a verruca was a type of wart you got on the bottom of your foot.
Despite that humorous reference from Charlie and the Chocolate factory, warts are no laughing matter! Though they are more common in childhood, they can affect people of any age. The common wart (aka verruca vulgaris) is a tremendous nuisance and cosmetic concern for millions of people. Some individuals may be lucky to have just one wart, whereas others may have dozens. As they grow and multiply, warts can cause numerous symptoms, including itching, pain, and bleeding. In addition to all those unwanted sensations, they may cause embarrassment and social stigmatization—especially in children. This can stem from both the appearance of the spots, as well as the concern from others about the potential for their contagious nature.
Warts Facts & Treatment
Let go of your fear and tune in, for there is hope—many options are available for treatment of the common wart. First, before an overview of those options, there are some important warts facts to understand.
- Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). In fact, there are more than 100 types of HPV. A handful of these can cause the common wart, with specific HPV types preferring certain areas of the body (for example, HPV type 1 is the most common type to cause warts on the feet).
- The HPV viruses can be contagious to susceptible individuals. A large subset of people (possibly half the population) are more predisposed to growing warts if they are exposed to the virus. Kids are more likely than adults to have warts. Either skin-to-skin contact or contact by inanimate objects can spread the HPV virus. An example of “inanimate object spread” is picking up the virus by walking barefoot on a floor where someone else that carries the virus has recently walked.
- They come in all shapes and sizes. Usually they are a flesh-colored scaly/rough bump. On the face they may appear like a skin tag (this is called a filiform wart). The feet they may also group in clusters (called a mosaic wart). On the backs of hands and in certain other areas of the skin they may be flat-topped rough bumps (called planar warts, aka flat warts).
FORTUNATELY, we have many different treatment options for warts…and it’s very important to note that the very reason for that is because not one treatment works with 100% effectiveness or in 100% of cases! Speaking from experience having treated thousands of warts at our practice, everyone wants them gone YESTERDAY….
Veruca Salt : (waiting to enter the Chocolate Factory) Daddy, I want to go in.
Mr. Salt : It’s 9:59, sweetheart.
Veruca Salt : Make time go faster.
And UNFORTUNATELY, essentially all treatments take time to work, requiring a bit of patience. As we check out a basic overview of what can be done for warts, a simple way to look at these treatments is to break them down into medical options and surgical options.
Right away, it’s worth pointing out that so many patients want to have their (or their children’s) warts surgically cut off the skin. Now there are some surgical options but cutting them off is rarely done and is rarely the best treatment. This will always leave a scar, and always involves some discomfort. Two main alternative surgical options are cryosurgery and laser surgery. Both can also cause some discomfort but are much less likely to scar.
Cryosurgery as you may have guessed involves freezing warts. This truly is a very old technique, yet in experienced hands can lead to great results in some cases. At Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands, we utilize liquid nitrogen for freezing warts, in most cases delivering it to the warts with use of a device called a Cryac. This liquid is supercooled, and with a temperature of -321 degrees Fahrenheit delivers a thermal punch to a wart that can blast it away.
Laser surgery has come a very long way in dermatology in general in the last few decades, most notably for the treatment of warts. Formally, the CO2 laser was often used to treat them. However, this laser is very traumatic to skin, and resulted in long healing times and a high rate of scarring after wart treatment. Over the last few decades, a different laser known as the pulsed dye laser has gained much more favor for the treatment of warts. It is less traumatic to the skin tissue, and results in much less pain and more rapid healing after treatments.
Both cryosurgery and laser surgery may require repeat sessions for optimal results. These treatment sessions are usually spaced at 1-month intervals.
Don’t forget, we have medical options to treat warts as well. There is one medication taken by mouth that we may prescribe at times for warts. In children this can be particularly effective if taken for a few months. Certain prescription applied medications may also be extremely reliable in patients of all ages.
Finally, in particularly tough cases, there are still some alternative options that may be considered. At our clinics in both Nebraska and Iowa, our professional provider staff at Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands have extensive knowledge and experience in the diagnosis and management of warts. We also have the pulsed dye laser available at our Omaha office. We know warts can be very frustrating and give lots of grief. Come visit one of our dermatology providers—we work with the best dermatologists in the region and would love to work with you.
Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands
Our vision is to deliver the highest level of dermatological care, using the most advanced technology and evidenced-based medicine in a personalized and compassionate environment. We are a patient-centered team committed to being the best place to work while also providing the highest quality of dermatology care. Our goal is to exceed our patients’ expectations while building a reputation as being the top dermatology practice in the Midlands. For any information or to make an appointment please contact us.