Warts and Peace: How to Serenely Deal with These Common Skin Growths

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Jacqueline Andrews-Evans, RPA-C with Advanced Dermatology PC, Offers Tips on Treating Different Kinds of Warts.

Jacqueline Andrews-Evans, RPA-C

Fortunately today we have a number of research-supported methods for successfully treating warts.

In the olden days, a last resort for a stubborn wart involved the full moon, an incantation, and a buried potato, employed with the hope that the wart would disappear as well. “Fortunately today,” says Jacqueline Andrews-Evans, a certified registered physician’s assistant specializing in dermatology with Advanced Dermatology PC, “we have a number of research-supported methods for successfully treating warts.”

Warts are benign skin growths that most people experience. Right now, as many as twelve percent of the population has a wart. The majority are young people: About thirty percent of children and teens are affected.

“Warts develop as a result of contracting the human papillomavirus (HPV),” explains Andrews-Evans, “which has more than 150 strains. The warts that result from most forms of HPV are harmless. But they can cause embarrassment or discomfort.”

HPV can invade our skin through an opening such as a cut or scrape. In response, the skin builds up extra layers, eventually creating a wart. “Different HPV strains cause different types of warts that predominate on different parts of our bodies,” observes Andrews-Evans. “For example, people often get ‘common’ warts on their hands, ‘plantar’ warts on their feet, and ‘flat’ warts on their legs or face, which is also the typical site for ‘filiform’ warts.”

Different warts have distinct appearances: common warts often show up as rough bumps; flat warts tend to be smooth, small and numerous; plantar warts can grow inward due to pressure on the foot; and filiform warts present as thread- or finger-like extensions.

While most warts are medically harmless, a notable exception is genital warts. “We consider genital warts differently,” Andrews-Evans cautions, “because they can lead to cancer. For genital warts, the CDC issues medical-treatment and screening guidelines. The CDC also emphasizes vaccinating young people against those specific HPV strains.”

When warts occur, the body’s immune system sets out to repel the invading virus. “In many cases,” observes Andrews-Evans, “our own immune system will take care of the HPV and the wart will disappear on its own. However, some warts stick around. In those cases, people may want to speed their departure.”

With that in mind, Andrews-Evans makes the following suggestions:

5 Answers to Address Worries about Warts:
1. Is my wart dangerous?: “Aside from the distinct category of genital warts,” says Andrews-Evans, “most warts pose no danger. But if there is any question about whether the growth is a wart, it should be evaluated to rule out a condition requiring treatment.”

2. Should I treat my wart?: “In addition to alleviating discomfort or embarrassment,” shares Andrews-Evans, “treating a wart can prevent further spread of the virus – fending off additional warts.”

3. Can I treat my wart myself?: “In many cases,” states Andrews-Evans, “warts respond well to at-home treatment. The first-line treatment for most warts involves topical application of salicylic acid, which is available over-the-counter. However, certain warts require a trip to the doctor’s.”

4. When should I see a doctor?: “Facial warts,” lists Andrews-Evans, “numerous warts, or symptomatic warts – those that hurt, itch, burn, or bleed – need a doctor’s evaluation. In addition, people with weakened immune systems should work with a doctor, as well as those with diabetes if they’re contending with foot warts. Warts that have not responded to home treatment can also be addressed. Your doctor can draw from a range of approaches, including stronger topical applications, cryotherapy, and electrosurgery. For especially resistant warts, lasers and novel treatments such as immunotherapy can be effective.”

5. How can I prevent more warts?: “HPV is contagious,” notes Andrews-Evans. “so we want to stop the virus: Don’t share personal grooming items like towels or razors. Use shower shoes at the gym or pool. Also, keeping our skin moisturized to avoid cracks and covering injuries can block the virus. If you have a wart, keep it covered, don’t shave over it, and avoid touching it.”

“Full-moon wart-away rites are no longer necessary,” concludes Andrews-Evans. “Your drugstore and your doctor can provide dependable treatment.”

Bio: Jacqueline Andrews-Evans, RPA-C is a Certified Physician Assistant through the National Commission of Certification of Physician Assistants.

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, 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

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