Viral warts or verrucae are caused by the human papilloma virus and are very common. They are usually spread by skin to skin contact and are most commonly seen on the hands and feet. Warts are not harmful and usually go away in time without any treatment. One-fifth of all warts disappear within six months, and two-thirds are gone within two years. However, if your wart is unsightly and painful, various treatments exist to treat it. Unfortunately, not all are effective.
Our dermatologists at SkinCare Physicians in the Boston area regularly field questions on wart treatments. Here are our recommendations.
Commonly used dermatology treatment: Cryotherapy
If warts do not respond to over-the-counter treatments, you may wish to see a dermatologist for cryotherapy. This technique freezes the wart using liquid nitrogen. The treatment is often painful, and can sometimes cause blistering and scarring. More aggressive cryotherapy appears to be more effective than gentle cryotherapy, but with an increased risk of side effects.
Other possible therapies
Our dermatologists at SkinCare Physicians are not generally recommending lasers for wart treatment. Studies have shown no difference in cure rates between warts treated with laser therapy compared to those treated by conventional therapies.
Other treatments are sometimes used to treat warts that have not responded to traditional therapies. These include:
However, these therapies do not appear to be safer or more effective than salicylic acid and cryotherapy.
Treating warts takes a lot of patience for most people and persistent warts remain a challenging condition to treat. Only rarely does a wart go away with the first treatment. Our experience shows that the most effective and safest therapies remain the over-the-counter treatments with salicylic acid and cryotherapy performed by a dermatologist.
If you are still concerned about a wart, consult one of our dermatologists at SkinCare Physicians in Boston.