Back in the age of fairy tales, people blamed warts on frogs and witches. After all, both frogs and witches have warts, so wouldn’t they spread them to anyone they touched?
Turns out the logic of fairy tales wasn’t too far off. Warts are simple: people get them from touching other people with warts.
These non-cancerous skin growths appear when a virus infects the top layer of skin. And although they aren’t dangerous, they are contagious. If you get a wart, it means that at some point you came in direct contact with a wart-causing virus. Maybe you shook hands with someone who had a wart on their hand. Maybe you used a towel or exercise equipment that someone with a wart also used. However you contracted it, rest assured – warts aren’t harmful.
But you’re probably still eager to get rid of them. So, if you’re looking for a way to remove warts, or just wondering what causes warts, here’s your guide.
What Are Plantar Warts?
These thick warts on the bottom of your foot hurt. They feel like you’re stepping on a rock or like you have a thorn in your shoe.
How to Get Rid of a Plantar Wart
Plantar warts require an aggressive treatment. First, we remove the layers of thick dead skin on the bottom of the foot. Once we get down to the base of the wart, we freeze it and use cantharidin to cause a blister. As the blister comes off, the wart comes off too. It may take a few treatments, but eventually these warts disappear completely.
What Are Common Warts?
Common warts are those bumps on your hands, knees, or elbows. They pop up suddenly in areas of plain sight. But having them removed is more than a cosmetic issue. You want them removed ASAP because they easily spread.
How to Remove Warts
We can shave off some common warts and be done with them. Others need more aggressive treatments. Much like the plantar wart, we pare it down and remove all dead skin. Once we get to the base of the wart, we freeze it.
Periungual Wart Treatment
These common warts appear around the fingernail. Because skin in this area grows slowly, it takes a long time for them to slough off. So we use the aggressive treatment of removing dead skin cells, freezing the wart, and applying blister medication for periungual warts.
What Are Flat Warts?
People, particularly women, get these circular, scaly patches on their legs. Since they’re flat, women can still shave. But since they’re contagious, shaving makes them spread. By the time someone comes in for treatment, they may have hundreds of flat warts on their feet and legs. Because there are so many, they’re very difficult to remove.
Best Treatment for Flat Warts
These are best treated with medication that irritates the skin and causes cell turnover. They take a long time to go away and require medication you can apply to a large area. Also, to keep warts from spreading, people can’t shave during the treatment process.
If you have any type of wart, visit your dermatologist for treatment. It’s just too difficult and painful to treat on your own. And the sooner you treat it, the less likely it is to spread – on your own body or to someone else!
Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.
Learn more about Dr. Plott.