WARTS : CAUSES, TREATMENT, PREVENTION
WHAT ARE WARTS? HOW DOES ONE GET WARTS?
Tiny discrete rough skin outgrowths are called warts. They are caused by inoculation of papilloma virus in skin, through any cut and abrasion.
WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF INFECTION?
Source of infection can be the direct contact with the infected person, or through use of infected substances like towels, razors etc. People who get shaving from outside are one ones usually infected.
WHY DO THEY NEED TO BE REMOVED?
Once virus enters the skin, it leads to formation of localized skin outgrowths called warts. Slowly it spreads to nearby skin giving rise to newer lesions. Thus, treatment becomes mandatory. Also warts are contagious i.e. can spread to other people. Also they don’t look good.
WHERE ON BODY CAN THEY APPEAR?
They can appear virtually in any part of the body –hands, palms, under the nails, scalp, eyebrows etc.
When they appear in ano – genital region, the source of spread is mostly sexual contact with the person having these lesions in the similar area. Thus, if a child presents with warts in anal region, possibility of sexual abuse has to be ruled out.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Creams: In case warts are really thin and flat, creams containing, imiquimod, retinoic acid or salicylic acid would help. A derrmatologist would prescribe them for home use. Application of trichloroacetic acid TCA, or podophyllin would help too. Both these medicines are strictly not for self use. One has to get it done at dermatologist’s clinic.
Thicker lesions won’t respond to creams. They need to be physically destroyed either by heat (lasers and radiofrequency devices) or by cold (nitrogen spray at – 172 degree Celsius is given to warts to destroy them. It also called cryotherapy).
HOW DOES LASER HELP IN TREATING WARTS?
Laser treats warts by burning it off. Since done after local anesthesia it doesn’t pain. No there won’t be any pain after anesthesia affect wanes off. No scars would be left behind. Person can immediately return to work post treatment. A course of oral and local antibiotics is prescribed post treatment .
HOW DOES CRYOTHERAPY WORK?
Cryotherapy involves killing the warts through freezing by exposing them to -172 degree Celsius nitrogen spray. Disadvantage is that it’s little painful and requires repeated sessions at a week’s interval. It may take 3 to 6 sessions. Both the treatment has no side effects provided done by a qualified doctor.
ANY ORAL MEDICINES FOR WARTS?
Whether doctor chooses to treat by cream or with destructive procedures, zinc supplements are prescribed to be taken on daily basis for two to three months, which not only would aid in killing virus but also help prevent recurrences.
WHAT SHALL ONE DO TO PREVENT RECURRENCE OF WARTS?
Taking oral zinc supplements is one way to prevent recurrences of warts.
By the time one approaches the doctor to treat the warts, some virus would have already spread to the nearby skin. It might give rise to new lesions sometime after the removal of initial lesions. Get the new warts removed the moment they come. Thereby, not giving them time to spread to nearby skin. Thus, slowly virus would be slowly out of the body.
SUMMARY: Warts are viral infection of the skin which can be cured by destroying them with laser or cryotherapy.
MBBS, MD (Dermatology)
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