What are warts?
Warts are benign lesions of solid content with an irregular surface (verrucous) that appear on the skin and are caused by infection with the human papillomavirus.
Strictly speaking, only lesions caused by the virus should be called warts, although the population often uses this term to refer to other types of lesions that appear on the skin such as fibroids (which appear mainly on the neck and armpits), keratoses, etcetera.
Types of warts
There are several types of warts:
- Common or vulgar warts, which appear on any area of the body, being more frequent on the hands, for example.
- Plantar warts (called papillomas by the general population).
- Flat warts
- Genital warts (also called condylomas).
- Et cetera.
How to remove warts
Warts can be removed in different ways:
- With physical methods such as cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen (which destroys warts by low temperature effect).
- Surgical methods (curettage and electrocoagulation, excision).
- Laser technology
- Application of chemical substances that destroy warts (liquids, patches, etc.), which are widely used.
- In recent years immunomodulatory drugs have appeared that are valid for some types of warts.
In order to treat warts in the most effective way possible, the professional must evaluate many factors, such as the patient’s age, the location of the lesions or the size, among others.
How long does it usually take to remove a wart?
The process of elimination is very variable, from a few weeks (which would be the most common scenario) to months or even years, as occurs in lesions that are very resistant to treatment or in patients with a high propensity to develop them.
In the case of cryotherapy, is it recommended to do it at home or to go to a specialized physician? If you can do it at home, how is the treatment carried out?
Cryotherapy is performed in a dermatologist’s office. It is an effective method, although it is not without potential side effects as it produces a cold burn on the skin.
In order to eliminate the viral particles with as little damage to healthy tissue as possible, several factors must be controlled, such as the distance, the amount administered and the area to be treated.
The technique is therefore not recommended to be performed by non-specialized hands and is obviously not a suitable method to be performed at home.
Why do warts reappear after removal?
It is common for warts to recur, either because not all the viral particles were removed (and these have subsequently formed new lesions), or because the patient has been reinfected.
On the other hand, there is an individual predisposition to develop warts and that is why there are people who present them with a high frequency. However, they are often eliminated with the available treatments or the patient develops specific immunity against the virus and they disappear spontaneously over time (months or years).
If a wart is not cured or is not removed correctly, what can it lead to?
Rarely do warts that appear on the skin develop complications, although they can be contagious to other people, in addition to the fact that the person who suffers from them can see their quality of life significantly diminished; for example, the conditioned discomfort to walk or run due to plantar warts; the unsightly and self-esteem effect of developing warts on visible areas of the skin such as the hands or face, and so on. We who see many patients with warts can vouch for the great emotional burden they suffer.
Care after wart removal
Once the warts have been removed, the patient can lead a normal life, with the same hygiene recommendations as the general population. If warts are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact directly or indirectly through contaminated objects or surfaces (swimming pools, gyms, etc.), it is advisable to avoid direct contact with the lesions, protect the soles of the feet in plantar warts, do not share personal hygiene items (towels, etc.).