Warts are a skin condition in which small growths appear on the hands, feet, genitals, or other areas of the body. These growths are caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV for short, and come in many different varieties. They may be smooth and flat, or rough and bumpy. They may appear in clusters together, or singularly, and may or may not contain small black specks, which are clotted blood vessels.
Transmission of the wart-causing HPV virus can occur via skin-to-skin contact. Wart growth is more likely in children, young adults, and those with compromised immune systems.
Diagnosis of Warts
In order to determine the presence of a wart, a dermatologist may examine the wart visually. They may also take a sample of the wart and examine it under a microscope to determine whether it is truly a wart or another type of skin growth. Often times, a dermatologist can immediately identify the growth if it is a wart.
Treatment of Warts
Most warts will disappear within a few years as the virus that caused it is cleared by the body's immune system. Alternatively, there are a number of medications available for treating warts.
Salicylic acid is the most common treatment, available both over- the- counter and by prescription through a dermatologist. Repeated applications of salicylic acid wear down the wart and eventually cause it to subside.
A dermatology provider may also recommend the topical cream imiquimod and DNCB, which is similar to but harsher than salcylic acid. Non-FDA approved treatments include cantharidin, bleomycin and cidfovir. A patient should consult with a dermatologist when selecting the right medication for their skin condition.
Other, non-medication treatments exist such as cryotherapy, a procedure where a wart is frozen such that it eventually falls off. Laser treatment is also available and completely destroys the wart. Again, when choosing a method of treatment, a patient should consult with their dermatology provider.