Warts are common skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Most people develop an immune response to warts that helps them go away on their own over time, but this could take months or years. Though they’re rarely painful or harmful, warts can be unsightly, and many patients opt to have them removed rather than wait for them to disappear.
Though there are countless treatments available for warts, no treatment boasts a 100% success rate. The good news is that the treatments that Dr. Joel Schlessinger offers at Skin Specialists of Omaha produce a 50-75% success rate. Though there’s always a chance that the wart could appear again in the same spot, the odds are good that you’ll remain wart-free. The following are a few effective treatments for warts.
Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses in-office treatment options for warts.
Dr. Schlessinger often opts for a topical method to treat warts on his patients. During treatment, the diluted substance, dinitrochlorobenzene, or DNCB, is applied to the wart. The substance then causes an immune response that wards off the wart-causing virus. Like all wart removal procedures, DNCB treatment require patience and persistence. A short series of physician-administered DNCB will often significantly improve warts. However, depending on the size and thickness of the wart, several treatments may be needed. With DNCB, diligent at-home care is also recommended.
Laser Wart Removal
Laser removal utilizes an intense beam of light to destroy the wart tissue. First, the wart virus is destroyed by the laser energy, then the laser energy helps to eliminate the blood supply that helps to nourish the wart and prevent it from going away. This treatment is usually only used for large or widespread warts, and it generally requires local or general anesthetic, as well as a series of up to four treatments spaced by a number of weeks. With this method, symptoms of redness and swelling may persist for one to two weeks, and there is an increased risk of post-procedure scarring and disfigurement. There is also the potential to spread the wart virus via air. Dr. Schlessinger avoids laser removal for these reasons, and also because it does not offer additional benefits when compared with safer methods.
Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen, or extreme cold, to quickly freeze the wart off. Within one to four treatments with up to three weeks between sessions, the wart is usually gone. A numbing local anesthetic is usually applied, and this helps to eliminate any pain and discomfort. Mild pain may last up to three days after treatment, and the affected area is usually healed within one to two weeks’ time. There is a low risk of scarring with cryotherapy.
Electrosurgery Electrosurgery uses heat from electricity to remove the wart. During treatment, an instrument is heated with electricity and then placed on the area without electricity entering the body. One 20-30 minute treatment resulting in a small wound is usually all that is required. Practicing proper at-home care for the wound is crucial to quick, successful recovery.
A chemical peel may be applied over a series of treatments to gradually reduce warts until they disappear altogether. These peels often contain strong concentrations of effective exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, tretinoin or salicylic acid, and they are mainly recommended for the treatment of flat warts. The exfoliating substance is applied at home to the warts daily, and then peeled off to gradually remove abnormal skin cells and encourage new, healthy cell regeneration.
Taking spirulina as an oral supplement could help heal warts, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae packed with vitamins and minerals. It is known for its ability to strengthen the immune system and improve skin and nails. Dr. Schlessinger recommends taking spirulina in oral supplement form to help expedite the natural repair process for warts and to complement your wart removal procedure. In addition to addressing warts, spirulina offers antioxidant protection against free radical damage and signs of aging, as well as acne-healing benefits.
Since some wart removal treatments carry a risk for scarring, you’ll need to choose aftercare products that will help your skin repair quickly and safely. LovelySkin.com carries a wide range of products for scarring and healing that are personally selected and recommended by Dr. Joel Schlessinger.
Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream’s powerful formula reduces the risk of infection and helps create an optimal environment for healing. Perfect for sensitive skin, this cream contains thermal spring water to gently and effectively treat recovering areas.
Be wary of home remedies when treating warts, Dr. Joel Schlessinger warns.
You’ve probably noticed many over-the-counter salicylic acid treatments for warts while browsing the aisles of your local drugstore. Often featured in acne care products, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that helps to gently exfoliate skin and eliminate impurities. In the case of warts, it helps to soften and dissolve abnormal skin cells. Over-the-counter wart removal kits are easy to obtain and easy to use, but like all wart treatments, they are only sometimes successful. To avoid spreading or reinfecting yourself with the virus, do not reuse washcloths, bandages or other materials that have come into contact with the wart during treatment.
Dr. Schlessinger recommends seeking the opinion of an expert before taking matters into your own hands with over-the counter treatments. In rare cases, salicylic acid may leave the wart enlarged and inflamed. In addition to salicylic acid-based treatments, you may find over-the-counter freezing kits for warts. Dr. Schlessinger does not recommend over-the-counter freezing methods, since what might appear to be a wart at first glance could be a mole, skin tag or other growth. It’s always best to be sure that you aren’t attempting to treat a more serious problem. Avoid purchasing unproven remedies or “miracle” products over the Internet internet to treat warts. These are never FDA-approved and could worsen the wart and irritate healthy surrounding skin. Similarly, do not use home remedies or natural recipes you might find on sites like Pinterest. Even common household ingredients and certain essential oils could prove irritating to skin, and these homemade potions could do more harm than good in the long run. Some over-the-counter products promise to freeze warts using dimethyl ether and propane, but it’s always best to seek professional care to maximize effectiveness and minimize the risk of scarring.
Dr. Joel Schlessinger provides helpful tips for preventing warts.
Though preventing contact with all wart-causing viruses can seem as impossible as avoiding germs altogether, there are several things you can do to lessen your chances of developing them. Always wear shoes in moist public places like showers and pools. Don’t share towels, clothing or shoes with others, especially if you know they have warts. If you visit the nail salon for manicures, consider bringing your own set of nails tools so that you avoid cross-contamination. Be sure that your nail technician wears gloves and takes proper sanitary measures between clients.
Have any skin abnormalities that could potentially be unknown warts checked out and treated if necessary. Check your children for warts often, particularly on their hands and feet. Like most contagious viruses and infections, warts are extremely common in school-age children due to close contact and the sharing of communal items. Avoid bathing children together to prevent spreading warts between them, and make regular hand-washing a family habit.
Do you have a question for Dr. Joel Schlessinger about warts? Let us know in the comments section.