Warts are small lesions on the skin, caused by a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV). They should not be confused with seborrhoeic keratoses, which are sometimes called seborrhoeic warts or age warts, though these are more likely to be caused by sun damage.
They are spread by skin contact with someone who has the virus, or where the virus has been left behind on a surface, such as a shower (causing a planter wart). There are many strains of the HPV virus, with only a couple being related to warts on the skin.
They commonly occur on fingers, knees and feet, as these parts of the skin readily come in contact with other people and with surfaces that hold the virus.
Do warts need to be treated?
Many warts, if left untreated, will eventually go away on their own, usually over a period of six months to two years. However, some may not go, even after a few years. Therefore, many people choose to treat their warts as soon as they appear, because it is creating a cosmetic concern for them or they do not wish to spread the virus. The wart itself poses no threat to your health or medical safety, and therefore, does not need to be treated.
What is involved in treating warts?
There are many different ways to treat warts. Over-the-counter preparations containing salacylic acid are often the first treatment that many people try. Some respond well to this form of treatment, others do not.
They can be frozen, using liquid nitrogen, by your doctor. It is important to understand that you may require more than one treatment session with liquid nitrogen and that there may be some pigment loss at the site of the treated wart.
Warts can also be treated with a chemotherapy agent called bleomycin. This medicine is injected into the wart. It is imperative to choose a doctor who has experience in injecting this medication, because side effects can include nerve damage.
Lasers can be an effective treatment also. Both the VBeam Pulsed Dye laser and the ablative CO2 laser can effectively used.
In a consult with our dermatologist, you will be given all the information required to determine the treatment that is most appropriate for you.
Regardless of which treatment method is chosen, we advise that warts may need several treatment sessions and we advise always wearing thongs in public showers and around swimming pools, to minimise the risk of picking up the wart virus.
If you are interested in knowing more about warts and how they are treated at our clinic, please contact us on (02) 9953 9522.