Warts

Warts are growths of the skin caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). More than 70 HPV subtypes are known. Warts are particularly common in childhood and are spread by direct contact or autoinoculation. This means if a wart is scratched, the viral particles may be spread to another area of skin.

Warts have a hard ‘warty’ or ‘verrucous’ surface. They grow most commonly on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands. You can often see tiny black dots in the middle of each scaly spot, and may look like seeds (often called “seed” warts). In children, even without treatment, 50% of warts disappear within 6 months; 90% are gone in 2 years. They are more persistent in adults but they clear up eventually.

Dermatologists are trained to use a variety of treatments, depending on the age of the patient and type of wart. Treatment options include cantharidin, liquid nitrogen, electrosurgery and curettage, and excision. If the warts are difficult to treat, your dermatologist may treat with special lasers, topical retinoids, chemical peels, bleomycin, and immunotherapy.