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PostSubject: Common warts   Common warts EmptyThu Jan 20, 2011 9:24 pm

Common warts
Filed under: Boomer's Health
Common warts are skin growths caused by a virus called the human
papillomavirus (HPV). This virus causes a rapid growth of cells on the
outer layer of your skin.

Common warts are different from moles, and they aren't cancerous. In
fact, they're usually harmless and often disappear on their own. But you
may find common warts bothersome or embarrassing, and you may want
treatment to remove them.

Common warts usually grow on your hands or fingers. Treatment helps
prevent common warts from spreading to other parts of your body or to
other people. But common warts may recur after treatment, and they may
be a persistent problem.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownSymptoms

Common warts are:

* Small, fleshy, grainy bumps
* Flesh-colored, white, pink or tan
* Rough to the touch

Common warts usually occur on your hands. They may occur singly or in
multiples. Warts may bleed if picked or cut and often contain one or
more tiny black dots, which are sometimes called wart "seeds" but are
actually small, clotted blood vessels.

Other locations for warts
Other types of HPV tend to cause warts in other places:

* Plantar warts. These occur on the plantar surfaces, or soles, of
your feet. They usually look like flesh-colored or light brown lumps
with tiny black dots in them. These dots are small, clotted blood
* Genital warts. A sexually transmitted infection, genital warts can
appear on your genitals, in your pubic area or in your anal canal. In
women, genital warts can also grow inside the vagina.
* Flat warts. These smaller warts generally occur on your face or legs. They're usually smoother than other types of warts.

When to see a doctor
Most common warts don't require medical treatment, but some people
choose to have their warts treated because they're bothersome, spreading
or a cosmetic concern. Most warts disappear on their own or with home
care. Prompt treatment by a doctor or dermatologist, however, may
decrease the chance that the warts will spread to other areas of your
body or to other people.

If warts persist after home treatment, see your doctor. Also visit your
doctor if your warts are bothersome, painful or rapidly multiplying.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownCauses

Warts are caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV).
There are 100 or more types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause relatively
harmless conditions, such as common warts, while others may cause
serious disease, such as cancer of the cervix. And, different types of
HPV cause different types of warts.

How warts spread
Like other infectious diseases, wart viruses pass from person to person.
You can also get the wart virus indirectly by touching a towel or
object used by someone who has the virus. It can take a wart as long as
two to six months to develop after exposure to the virus.

Each person's immune system responds to the HPV virus differently,
meaning not everyone who comes in contact with HPV develops warts. If
you have warts, you can spread the virus to other places on your own
body. Warts usually spread through breaks in your skin, such as a
hangnail or scrape. Biting your nails also can cause warts to spread on
your fingertips and around your nails.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownRisk factors

Some people are more likely to develop warts after exposure to the HPV virus, including:

* Children and young adults
* People with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or people who've had organ transplants

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownComplications

Because warts shed HPV, new warts can appear as quickly as old ones go away. They can also spread to other people.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownPreparing for your appointment

Although most warts don't require medical treatment, some people choose
to have them removed for cosmetic reasons, or because their location
makes them uncomfortable. If you're concerned about your warts, ask your
primary care doctor for a referral to a doctor who specializes in skin
disorders (dermatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

* Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
* Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions
can help you make the most of your time together. For warts, some basic
questions to ask your doctor include:

* What made the warts develop?
* If I have them removed, will they come back?
* What types of treatments are available to remove the warts, and which do you recommend?
* What types of side effects can I expect?
* Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
* Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What Web sites do you recommend visiting?

What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may also have some questions for you, such as:

* When did you first notice the warts?
* Have you ever had them in the past?
* Are you bothered by the warts, either for cosmetic reasons or for comfort?
* What treatments have you already used for your warts, including over-the-counter treatments, and what were the results?

What you can do in the meantime
Before trying any over-the-counter wart remedies, it's generally a good
idea to wait until your doctor has confirmed that your skin growth is,
in fact, a wart and not a different or more serious condition.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownTests and diagnosis

Your doctor can usually diagnose a wart just by looking at it.
Sometimes, your doctor may scrape off the top layer of the wart to look
for the clotted blood vessels that are common with warts. If the
diagnosis is still in doubt, your doctor may take a small sample of the
growth to be analyzed in order to rule out other causes of your skin

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownTreatments and drugs

Many common warts don't require treatment. They usually disappear within
two years, though new ones may develop nearby. You may want to treat
them for cosmetic purposes, if they're causing discomfort or to prevent
their spread. Home treatment is often effective in curing common warts.
Salicylic acid, an over-the-counter medication, or even duct tape and
patience may be enough to resolve common warts.

If you have stubborn warts and home treatment isn't helping, your doctor
may suggest one of the following approaches, based on the location of
your wart, the degree of your symptoms and your preferences. Doctors
generally start with the least painful, least destructive methods,
especially in young children.

* Freezing (cryotherapy, or liquid nitrogen therapy). Your doctor
may use liquid nitrogen to destroy your wart by freezing it. This
treatment is usually only mildly painful and is often effective,
although you may need repeated treatments. Freezing works by causing a
blister to form under and around your wart. Then, the dead tissue
sloughs off within a week or so. Local anesthesia may be necessary for
large warts, and risks of freezing include permanent damage to your nail
bed and nerves in the treated area.
* Cantharidin. Your doctor may use cantharidin — a substance
extracted from the blister beetle — on your warts. Typically, the
extract is mixed with other chemicals, painted onto the skin and covered
with a bandage. The application is painless, but the resulting skin
blister can be uncomfortable and may cause swelling. However, the
blister has an important purpose. It lifts the wart off your skin, so
your doctor can remove the dead part of the wart.
* Minor surgery. This involves cutting away the wart tissue or
destroying it by using an electric needle in a process called
electrodessication and curettage. However, the injection of anesthetic
given before this surgery can be painful, and the surgery may leave a
scar. For these reasons, surgery is usually reserved for warts that
haven't responded to other therapies.
* Laser surgery. Laser surgery can be expensive, and it may leave a scar. It's usually reserved for tough-to-treat warts.

Other treatments and medications
If you have a bad case of warts that hasn't responded to standard
treatments, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for further
treatment, including:

* Immunotherapy. This type of treatment attempts to harness your
body's natural rejection system to fight off warts. Topical
immunotherapy medications that may be prescribed for stubborn warts
include squaric acid dibutylester and a gel called imiquimod (Aldara).
Imiquimod is marketed for the treatment of genital warts but has also
proved effective for treating common warts. However, warts may return
when these therapies are stopped.
* Bleomycin (Blenoxane). Your doctor may inject a wart with a
medication called bleomycin, which kills the virus. Bleomycin is used
with caution for warts, but in higher doses, is used to treat some kinds
of cancer. Risks of this therapy include nail loss and damage to the
skin and nerves.
* Retinoids. Derived from vitamin A, these medications disrupt your
wart's skin cell growth. Your doctor may prescribe a retinoid cream or
an oral medication. These medications make your skin extra sensitive to
the sun, so be sure to protect your skin from the sun while taking them.

Common warts can be tough to get rid of completely or permanently,
especially when they appear around and under your nails. And, if you're
susceptible to the wart virus, you probably always will be. New warts
may crop up even after successful treatment. More than one treatment or
more than one approach to treatment may be necessary to manage the
problem. Warts are viral, and antibiotics are not effective for viral

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownLifestyle and home remedies

Unless you have an impaired immune system or diabetes, try a self-care approach to treating common warts:

* Salicylic acid. Wart medications and patches are available at
drugstores. You can use them to treat warts at home. For common warts,
look for a solution or patch containing 17 percent salicylic acid
(Compound W, Occlusal-HP), which peels off the infected skin. These
products require daily use, often for a few weeks. For best results,
soak your wart in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes before applying a
solution or patch, and file away any dead skin with a nail file or
pumice stone between treatments. Just be careful. The acid in these
products can irritate or damage healthy skin around the wart. Stronger
salicylic acid preparations are available with a prescription. Your
doctor may instruct you to use salicylic acid after freezing or other
therapies. Irritation is a common side effect of this treatment, and
usually means that the treatment is working. If you're pregnant, talk
with your doctor before using an acid solution.
* Duct tape. An initial study found that duct tape wiped out more
warts than cryotherapy did. The "duct tape therapy" used in this study
included covering warts with duct tape for six days, then soaking the
warts in warm water and rubbing them with an emery board or pumice
stone. The process was repeated for as long as two months. Although
researchers hypothesized that this unconventional therapy worked by
irritating the wart and triggering the body's immune system to attack,
more recent research has disputed these findings and found that duct
tape wasn't effective for treating warts. Still, the low cost and
convenience of this treatment may make it worth trying, especially in
children who find cryotherapy to be painful and frightening.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownAlternative medicine

Although you may run across alternative treatments that promise to cure
your warts, only two treatments have shown promise in small clinical
trials: an oil-based garlic solution and topical vitamin D-3 patches.
Though the treatments were effective, each therapy was only studied in a
single trial, so the evidence isn't yet conclusive.

©1998-2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Terms of use.
Read this article on
Expand Arrow DownPrevention

To reduce the risk that you or your child will get or spread warts:

* Don't brush, clip, comb or shave areas that have warts, in order to avoid spreading the virus.
* Don't use the same file or nail clipper on your warts as you use on your healthy nails.
* Don't bite your fingernails if you have warts near your fingernails.
* Don't pick at warts. Picking may spread the virus. Consider covering warts with an adhesive bandage to discourage picking.
* Keep your hands as dry as possible, because warts are more difficult to control in a moist environment.
* Wash your hands carefully after touching your warts.
* Use footwear in public showers or locker rooms.

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