This patient information and photographs on Common Warts is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Verruca vulgaris is one of the most recognizable skin growths. In common terms
this growth is known as a wart. Common warts can occur at any age, but they are more frequently seen in children. Warts often occur on the fingers and hands, but they can grow anywhere on the skin.
What causes it? Warts are caused by a virus that infects the skin. When the virus invades the skin it causes the skin cells to grow rapidly, forming the wart. The virus only invades individuals that have limited immunity against it. Children generally have less immunity to the wart virus than adults; therefore they are more commonly infected. A few unfortunate adults never seem to develop significant immunity and they are continuously plagued with warts.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person warts are a harmless problem. Common warts are not related to cancer and they do not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? Everyone has heard of fold remedies that have been used in the
treatment of warts. These occasionally work because of the body's ability to develop natural immunity. Professional medical treatment is directed at destroying the wart virus or stimulating natural immunity. Most warts can be cured, but multiple treatment sessions may be required. There are several different treatments that I use for warts. I will try to choose the treatment that will cause the least discomfort, and give the best results depending on the size and location of the wart.
There is no harm in trying over-the-counter wart removal products. Most products are salicylic acid based, any of the following can be used.
It commonly takes many weeks before results are seen.
Will it grow back? Warts may re grow after treatment, thus requiring further therapy. Occasionally, following treatment, a ring of warts may grow around the treatment site. This is frustrating, but these can also be treated.
Will it spread? Warts can spread so it is best to treat as many as possible.
Is it contagious? Warts are contagious to those who are susceptible, but because the virus is so common no special precautions can be taken.