Contrary to popular belief and fairytale folklore, warts aren’t a curse, and you can’t get them from handling frogs. Instead, you get them when you’ve been exposed to the human papillomavirus (HPV).
There are countless viruses all around you in the air and on the surfaces you touch. Some of them cause you to get sick with illnesses like the flu or even COVID-19, and others cause different problems, like warts on your skin.
If you have one or more of these rough, bumpy little knobs of flesh on your hands, feet, face, or genitals, you can thank the HPV virus. It enters your skin anywhere there’s an opening, so if you have a scrape or cut and the HPV virus is nearby, it gets in through the broken skin and takes up residence. If you bite your nails, it gets in near your cuticles, and if you nick yourself shaving, it enters through the cut.
We see all types of warts all the time here at Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics. Dr. Robert Topham specializes in identifying your warts and treating their root cause. But how do you know if your warts are a serious medical concern and whether you need treatment or not? Here, Dr. Topham explains all you need to know to make an informed decision about your warts.
Are warts serious?
Typically, warts are not a serious medical issue. They can pop up anywhere you have skin, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Warts even have different names depending on where they appear. But in general, they are more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one.
If you have warts on your genitals, you should definitely seek medical attention. There are about 40 different strains of HPV that can be passed through sexual contact and cause genital warts on one or both partners.
It’s also possible to be infected with the virus and infect someone else even if you don’t have symptoms. In some cases, genital warts can lead to certain cancers and pregnancy complications.
To treat or not to treat your warts
If you have one of the many harmless types of warts somewhere on your body, you can choose to wait them out and let them fade away on their own, or treat them now and speed up the process.
If your warts are visible and cause you emotional distress, it’s a good idea to get rid of them. Otherwise, it could take months or years for your body to fight the virus on it’s own.
In addition to the aesthetic issue of warts, you also run the risk of them multiplying. If you choose to let nature take its course, you may find that the problem gets worse before it gets better, because warts are highly contagious and can spread to other parts of your body.
In fact, you may also infect anyone who touches things you’ve touched or those who touch your warts. So, to be on the safe side, it’s best to get them treated. Your options include at-home treatments and professional treatments.
There are several over-the-counter treatments available in your local drugstore that may help get rid of small, minor warts. Creams and ointments containing salicylic acid can dissolve some warts over time.
Freezing spray is also a common treatment that destroys the wart tissue and seems to melt it away.
Some wart sufferers swear by the duct tape method, which involves covering your warts with a strip of duct tape for about six days, then filing it down gently with an emery board, and then repeating the process as needed until the wart is gone.
If you’ve tried the DIY route and still have warts, you may need medical intervention. Dr. Topham evaluates the severity, type, and location of your warts before recommending which treatment is best suited for you.
He may suggest:
- Prescription topical solutions
- Oral medication to boost your immunity
- Professional-grade freezing treatment (cryotherapy)
- Removal with a scalpel
Contact us today at our office in Holladay, Utah, where we serve people throughout the greater Salt Lake City area. And between now and your appointment with Dr. Topham, make sure you keep yourself and others safe from the virus by washing everything that comes in contact with your warts.