Ugly Common Warts: Causes, Prevention and Treatments

It is a sad fact of life that warts have been around for ages with mankind trying to eradicate them with all kinds of potions.  What are warts and what causes this ugly looking skin growth?  Warts are small, usually painless unsightly growths on the skin with the exception of the Plantar found on the soles or toes of the feet; it can be extremely painful. The typical wart is a raised round or oval growth on the skin with a rough surface. Compared to the normal surrounding skin, warts may appear light, dark or black (rare). They are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). More than 100 strains of this virus have been identified, and at least 60 are known to cause warts. A common wart can range in size from a pinhead to 10 mm.

HPV strikes where the skin is broken, for example, cuts or scratches or where fingernails have been bitten and skin has been damaged in the process. Warts can spread from person to person and from one part of the body to the other. For these reasons doctors recommend that if you touch a wart you should wash your hands immediately. As warts are contagious, precautions should be taken to avoid spreading them .Warts have been known to go away by themselves with time, if the immune system improves. They typically disappear after a few months, but they can last for years and can recur.

HPV causes unusual skin growth at the base of the outer layer of skin. Contrary to popular belief common warts do not have deep roots; they stay on the surface of the skin, and are completely harmless. Scientists believe that there are several reasons why some individuals are infected by warts, and others remain wart-free. These include: the type and strength of the viral strain, the health of the exposed person, and the strength of an individual’s immune response.

How can warts be prevented?

1) The best way, avoid skin contact with a wart on someone else.

2) After touching a wart, wash your hands with soap and water

3) In treating the wart, carefully clean the file or pumice stone you use with soap and water

4) Make sure that personal items, such as clothes, towels and wash clothes are not used by others.

5) Build up the immune system with a healthy diet; avoid eating the wrong foods.

6) Plantar warts are spread by contact with moist walking surfaces; don’t walk barefoot in public areas such as showers or communal dressing rooms (wear flip flops or sandals); don’t share socks or shoes.

7) Cover warts with adhesive, when in swimming areas so as not to share them with others.

Different Types of Warts:

* Common Warts ( Verruca vulgaris) usually appear on the hands, but they can appear anywhere.

* Filiform or Digitate Warts a thread or finger-like wart, common on the face, eyelids and lips.

Flat Warts ( Verruca plana) are generally found on the face and forehead. They are common in children, less common in teens, and rare in adults.

* Genital Warts ( venereal wart, Condyloma acuminatum) are usually found on the genitals, in the pubic area, and in the area between the thighs, but they can also appear inside the vagina and anal canal.

* Mosaic Warts a group of tightly clustered plantar-type warts, commonly on hands or soles of the feet.

Periungual Warts a cauliflower-like cluster of warts that occurs around the nails.

* Plantar Warts ( Verruca Pedis) are found on the soles of the feet and the toes.

* Subungual Warts appear under and around the fingernails or toenails.

Common warts tend to cause no discomfort unless they are in areas of repeated friction or pressure. Plantar warts, for example, can become extremely painful. Large numbers of plantar warts on the soles of the feet can cause difficulty walking or running; as they feel like hard painful lumps. They often have many black specks in the center.

Treatments: There are many different treatments and procedures for wart removal.

First-line therapy is Over-the-counter salicylic acid, which is beneficial in many cases. One review of 52 clinical trials of various cutaneous wart treatments concluded that topical treatments containing salicylic acid were the best supported. With an average cure rate of 75%. Compared with 48% for the placebo in six placebo-controlled trials including a total of 376 participants. Warts can also be controlled by laser therapy, but this is generally more painful and expensive, and multiple laser treatments are required (generally 4-6 treatments repeated once a month until the wart disappears). Surgery was not recommended in most cases, because it could cause scarring or keloids.. The reviewers also concluded that there was little evidence of a significant benefit of cryotherapy (freezing a wart with liquid nitrogen). Another treatment is duct tape therapy, which is proclaimed to be more effective than cryotherapy. See American Academy of Family Physicians.

Warning: Do not use over-the-counter medications on your face or genitals. Do NOT treat warts on your face or genitals yourself. See your health care provider.

The Duct Tape Method consists of completely covering the wart, so oxygen can’t reach it, without the use of medication. The duct tape is kept on for six days, then removed for one night, before being re-applied for another six days. If this doesn’t work in this time frame, you will need to try something else.

Duct tape was not intended to be used on human skin. The safety of the chemicals in it have not been evaluated. Using Mediplast Plaster Pads and athletic tape are easier to use and more likely to give good results as they stay on the skin better. I did personally use plain duct tape and it got rid of a wart for me in 2 weeks. It does work.

Another method, akin to the Duct Tape Method uses a layer of plastic wrap cut slightly larger than the surface area of the wart(s), and then affixed securely with a bandage. Care must be taken to ensure that the skin doesn’t breathe for long periods between fresh dressings, and effective results should be noticed within 2 weeks, or else be discontinued. Despite the excess moisture of sweat, the lack of oxygen speeds the degeneration of the wart and surrounding skin; especially in combination with other treatments that gradually expose the root, such as salicylic acid.

There were a number of medications that doctors are using, such as: Imiquimod, Cantharidin and Bleomycin, but they are not FDA approved. Another is Dinitrochlorobenzene (DNC which is far stronger than salicylic acid, but must be used more cautiously; the chemical is a known mutagen, able to cause genetic damage.

There was an Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment suggested using the following steps:Soak the wart in apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes; gently remove dead tissue with a pumice stone or emery board, apply petroleum jelly around the wart to protect the skin. Cover the wart with a cider-soaked piece of cotton ball and cover the cotton ball with an adhesive bandage. The treatment is repeated, until the wart falls off.

There is a simple, painless, low cost Home Remedy for Plantar Warts: It consists of the use of one or two Mediplast 40% Salicylic Acid Plasters 2-by-3-inch plasters (make sure that they are 40% as lower potency won’t work). The Mediplast plaster is a medicated rubber sheet with a sticky side covered by a paper backing. The active ingredient is salicylic acid. Call your local pharmacy to make sure they are available. They can special order them for you. It also takes a roll of athletic tape from a sporting goods store or variety store, about $4. Athletic tape is a sticky cloth tape that athletes use to wrap their knees, wrists and other joints. Drip on salicylic acid treatments are not as effective, because the liquid doesn’t stay in contact with the wart long enough.

Note: This information is not intended to replace the advice of a physician. Although this treatment is very effective, it is not guaranteed to work in all cases. If you are not sure, if you have plantar warts, or if you are not sure this treatment is right for you, consult a physician first. If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of the treatment, discontinue and consult a physician. This treatment is for plantar warts on the soles of the feet only. Do not attempt this treatment if you are diabetic or have poor blood circulation, or if the skin is infected or reddened. This treatment requires patience. It can take 2 or 3 weeks before you see positive results. Don’t get discouraged if not much happens the first week or two. The cost for the treatment should be less than $10.

Plantar Wart Treatment Procedure:

1) Cut a piece of the plaster to the size & shape of the plantar wart on your foot. Peel off the paper backing.

2) Feet need to be clean and dry. Apply sticky side of the plaster to the wart. If you have many, treat the few largest or more troublesome.

3) Cover the plasters with a strip of tape. Make the ends go around the sides and on top of your foot. Press firmly to make the tape stick well.

4) Apply another strip of tape on top of your foot, covering the ends of the first strip of tape. Now the two pieces of tape form a loop around your foot that will not come off easily.

5) Keep the tape on for 5 to 7 days (even though the Mediplast instructions say 2 days). It is OK to bathe and get the tape wet. If the tape starts coming off, trim away the loose edges and apply more tape around your foot to keep the original tape on.

6) After 5 to 7 days, remove the tape and plaster. The treated area will appear white, probably with some loose dead skin. Soak your feet in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Using a nail clipper, file, coarse emery board or sandpaper, remove as much loose dead skin as you comfortably can. It is not necessary to get every bit of dead skin off. Wash your feet and allow them to dry thoroughly.

7) Repeat steps: 1 through 6 (one treatment every 5 to 7 days) until the warts are gone.

The source for the above information is listed at the end of the blog (see: graychang).

Contact Your Health Care Provider for an appointment if:

There are signs of infection (red streaking, pus discharge or fever) or bleeding. Warts can bleed a little, but if bleeding is significant or not easily stopped by light pressure, see a doctor.

* You have pain associated with the wart.

* You have anal or genital warts.

* You have diabetes or a weakened immune system (for example, HIV) and have developed warts.

* There is any change in the color or appearance of the wart.

* The wart does not respond to self-treatment and you want it removed.

Hopefully this will answer the concerns about Plantar and other warts, as voiced by a subscriber recently. There was a statistic for Plantar Warts that 7 – 10% of the US population has been affected with them. This is a significant number of people. If there are people you know with this problem, let them know there are low cost answers available.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis


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