Warts are infections in the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 types of HPV that are responsible for the many different types of warts, which include common warts, plantar warts, flat warts and genital warts.
Some of the types of warts caused by HPV include:
Symptoms of warts
The characteristics of a wart depend on the type, but can include:
There are many different treatments for warts. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of your treatment as some cause scarring. Warts can be stubborn, so you may need to use more than one type of treatment.
Some of the wart treatment options include:
Do nothing – about 65 per cent of warts clear up by themselves within two years, without any medical intervention. However, new warts occur three times as frequently in infected children as in uninfected ones. This ‘wait and see’ approach isn’t recommended for people with multiple warts, or for those who have had their warts for more than two years.
Topical (applied to the skin) chemicals – such as salicylic acid or lactic acid. Some topical agents can be harmful to healthy skin tissue, which means they are best applied by your doctor or dermatologist. Other topical agents can be applied yourself. It may take three months or more for the treatment to get rid of the warts.
An immune system stimulator – such as imiquimod – can be used for genital warts. It stimulates the immune system to fight the viral infection. A similar way to invoke the immune system is with DPCP (diphenylcyclopropenone). A person is made hypersensitive to this chemical and then low concentrations are applied around the wart, encouraging immune cells to invade and destroy the wart. DPCP is only available in specialist clinics.
Cryotherapy – the warts are frozen with liquid nitrogen. It may take up to four months of regular cryotherapy to get rid of the warts.
Laser therapy – a laser is used to burn off the warts. Scarring may occur.
Gardasil vaccination is now provided to teenage girls to protect them against HPV strains associated with genital warts and cervical cancer. It is not generally recommended to treat existing warts.”