Warts are skin growths that arise from a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the upper layers of the skin.
Warts are very common especially in children, they are not dangerous but they do spread easily through contact. A miniscule defect in the skin is all that is needed for the virus to infect the skin and a wart to form.
Regardless of where they are found on the body, warts have a very typical appearance and rarely require a biopsy. Some warts grow outwards and are raised, hard, rough and have cauliflower-like appearance. Some warts grow inwards – as seen in plantar warts found on the sole of the foot. These tend to look like indentations in the foot. You may see a tiny dark spot in the middle of a wart – this is called an intracorneal haemorrhage.
Here a 5 things that your GP will want to know about your warty growth:
– The duration that you have had the wart
– The location of the wart on your body
– Pain or irritation the wart may be causing you
– Growth of the wart
– Your expectations and wishes for management
These are the most commonly used treatment options:
- Watch and wait: most warts will resolve on their own after 12 months.
- Topical Salycylic acid 40%: carefully paint this ointment onto the wart every night and cover the area with a bandaid. This treatment can take up to 12 weeks, but can be effective. It can cause skin irritation so make sure you protect the normal skin around your wart and you speak to your GP if irritation occurs.
- Cryotherapy: your GP can use cryotherapy to freeze the wart off. Liquid nitrogen is applied to the wart either with a cotton swab or sprayed directly onto the affected area. This treatment causes localised irritation which resolves within a few days. You may require a few sessions every 2-4 weeks depending on the size and location of the wart.
- A combination of topical salicylic acid and cryotherapy.
A wart that is causing you pain and affecting your ability to do your daily activities is worth treating, so speak to your GP to find the best option for you.