Warts are benign skin growths that form anywhere on the body, including in the mouth and genital areas. Children, sexually active and immunosuppressed adults tend to get several lesions. They develop when a virus, the human papillomavirus, infects the top layers of the skin.
Most of the time they have no symptoms, they are occasionally itchy or painful (especially the bottom of the feet). It is important to treat these lesions because they are contagious, as they can spread from direct contact.
Q: Do warts need to be treated?
A: There is data to suggest that most warts will resolve on their own by 2-3 years. However, with their contagious nature, potential for symptoms and cause for social embarrassment, it is recommended to have these lesions treated by your provider. Rarely, mostly in immunosuppressed patients, warts can transform into skin cancers.
Q: What kinds of treatments are available for warts?
A: Common methods for treating warts including duct tape, over-the-counter salicylic acid products, liquid nitrogen, cantharidin (“beetlejuice”), electrosurgery (burning) and curettage (scraping) or excision. Other treatment options include prescription topical medications (aldara, retin-A, podophyllin, etc), laser therapy, chemical peels, immunotherapy and rarely oral retinoids.
Q: Can warts be cured?
A: Yes and no. With treatments as described above, one can get rid of the clinically obvious warts. However, they can recur or develop new ones at any time in the future. Continued follow-up with your Advanced dermatology provider for treatment and detection of future lesions is essential.