Warts: An Embarrassing Problem with Many Solutions

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Dermatology specialists Dr. Joshua Fox and Dr. Alicia Cool with Advanced Dermatology PC explain wart removal and offer tips on what to ask your dermatologist.

Dr. Alicia Cool

Common warts can be a real nuisance and are especially embarrassing when they grow on the face.

Warts are an equal-opportunity problem: Anyone can get them. But getting rid of this common, embarrassing skin condition – affecting up to 12% of people worldwide – is usually straight forward, with many wart removal options available today, according to Joshua Fox, MD, medical director of Advanced Dermatology P.C.

Caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), warts are benign skin growths that appear when the virus infects the uppermost layer of skin. Children, teens and people who bite their nails or pick at hangnails are more prone to getting them, but one thing’s for sure: No one’s happy to see a wart show up.

“Common warts can be a real nuisance and are especially embarrassing when they grow on the face,” says Dr. Alica Cool, associate director of Advanced Dermatology of Park Slope. “Warts can also bleed and hurt when they’re bumped. And since warts can spread from one part of the body to another and also between people, wart removal is a good idea from both a cosmetic and a medical standpoint.” In certain rare occasions warts can also promote skin cancer production, particularly in certain areas of the body like the genital areas.

Tips on Top question to ask your dermatologist
While warts are all caused by HPV, several different types can appear on the skin, Dr. Cool notes. They include:

  •     Common warts, which are rough bumps that usually grow on fingers and hands and can be embedded by black dots.
  •     Plantar warts, which typically grow on the soles of the feet and can hurt when pressure is applied while walking.
  •     Flat warts, which are smaller and smoother than others and tend to grow in large numbers.
  •     Filiform warts, which look like long threads or fingers and often grow on the face.

It’s usually not difficult for a dermatologist to diagnose genital warts which may look more moist and smooth. A dermatologist can usually tell just by looking at it. But after obtaining a diagnosis, the top question to ask your doctor is, “Will this go away on its own?”

“The answer may be yes, but it depends on the type of wart you have,” Dr. Fox explains. “Also, warts can take months or years to disappear without treatment – if ever. That’s another reason wart removal is the suggested option, as you don’t want to infect your friends and family.”

How warts are removed
What’s involved in wart removal? Several potential treatments may be considered depending on the type, location and symptoms of an individual wart. According to Dr. Cool there are specific advantages to each of the treatments depending on the patient’s particular situation. These wart removal procedures include:

  •     Cantharidin, a chemical doctors “paint” on a wart that prompts a blister to form under it. We also utilize other topical agents like salicylic acid, bichloroacetic acid, tricholoracetic acid, aldara and other creams and agents. .
  •     Electrosurgery and curettage, which first burns the wart and then scrapes it off using a small knife or spoon-shaped tool.
  •     Excision, which cuts out the wart.
  •     Cryotherapy, which freezes the wart and may require repeat treatments to completely eliminate it.
  •     Laser treatment, which uses intense light beams to burn and destroy wart tissue. Laser treatment may be used if other wart removal treatments haven’t worked.
  •     Immunotherapy, which uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the warts and may be used if warts remain despite other treatments. We use both the candida and/or trichophytin antigens.

Before undergoing wart removal treatment, Dr. Fox recommends asking your dermatologist a few important questions, such as whether the treatment will cause a scar; be painful; may cause infection; or need diligent follow-up care.

“Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the wart virus, and there is always a chance that a wart that has been removed will grow back,” Dr.Cool says. “However, most of the time, wart removal treatment is successful and the warts are gone for good.”

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation with 13 locations in New York and New Jersey, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies. http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com.

Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., Medical Director at Advanced Dermatology PC. He is board certified and specializes in skin cancer, cosmetic surgery and laser procedures. Alicia J. Cool, M.D., F.A.A.D., associate director of Advanced Dermatology of Park Slope. She is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in all areas of medical dermatology, skin cancer prevention and treatment and cosmetic dermatology and an assistant professor at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

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Melissa Chefec
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