What are warts ?

Warts are bumps on the skin that are caused by certain strains of the human papilomavirus (HPV). They can occur after the virus finds its way in to the skin from direct or indirect contact with another person who has one. Additionally, once present, a wart can spread to nearby skin or other areas of the body, particularly when traumatized.

Who gets warts ?

Children and adults can get warts. Frequent sites where warts occur are the hands and feet, as well as the knees and elbow.

How do I know if I have warts ?

They are flesh colored bumps that are typically not painful, unless they are in an area that is frequently rubbed or pressed.

How can I treat warts ?

Typical treatments involve over the counter salicylic acid products (e.g. from Dr. Scholl’s or Compound W). The over the counter liquid nitrogen canisters are often not effective for treating thick warts. Treating warts often requires persistence and continuous treatment until the wart is completely gone. Regular in office treatment with liquid nitrogen are often needed, in conjunction with over the counter salicylic products and prescription meds. Other effective treatments include pulsed dye laser and injection of certain medications.

How can I prevent warts ?

Wearing flip flops in public showers to protect your feet from coming in contact with the virus can be helpful. Additionally, keeping the skin of the hands, feet, elbows and knees healthy, by frequently moisturizing them (e.g. daily after a shower and for hands after every time you wash them) may be helpful. This can prevent cracks from forming in the skin, removing a potential entryway for the virus that causes warts.

When should I see a dermatologist about warts ?

You can see a dermatologist for your warts at any time, to treat it early and to get tips on avoiding further spread. It is particularly important to come in for this if it is not improving or resolving with over the counter treatment, to insure that the correct diagnosis is made and/or prevent them from getting larger and spreading.

Additional Resource:
American Academy of Dermatology