The truth about warts

Warts are caused by viruses in the humanpapillomavirus (HPV) family that penetrate the skin. Common warts are ones that grow on the hands and fingers, and they are not very contagious. On the other hand, the virus that causes anal or genital warts is highly contagious and it is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease. If you think you have genital warts, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Who gets warts

Common warts not surprisingly are the most common. They affect mostly children and young adults. Starting as mostly skin-colored or brownish and smooth-surfaced lesions, they become rougher as they grow. They vary in size from a few millimeters to over 1 centimeter. Most common warts are usually symptom free. Plantar warts, on the other hand, can be very painful. These warts are very widespread and the virus can be picked up by walking barefoot along swimming pools or in locker rooms. They can be prevented by always wearing sandals or shoes.


Most warts, except for genital warts, clear up spontaneously within a few years. Their disappearance is often attributed to miracle therapies, whose only real merit is that they were applied just before the end of the wart's natural lifespan. Warts also sometimes reappear spontaneously.

The decision to treat is based on several factors:

  • the location of the wart;
  • the possibility of friction;
  • pain (especially in the case of plantar warts);
  • cosmetic considerations (warts on the face...).

Ask your pharmacist to help you choose the right product for the type of wart you have to treat. Over-the-counter products (e.g., Duofilm™) against common warts generally contain salicylic acid.

Before using one of these over-the-counter products, soak the affected area in warm or hot water for 5 minutes until the skin softens and dry it thoroughly. Then apply petroleum jelly or clear nail polish around the wart to protect healthy skin, preventing it from "burning."Such products are not appropriate for all types of warts. They should never, for example, be used to treat anal or genital warts. Only a physician can diagnose anal or genital warts and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Also, never attempt to remove a wart yourself using a sharp instrument (knife, razor, blade, etc.). You could cause bleeding and scarring, and an infection may develop. Consult your doctor, who may use laser therapy or cryotherapy (freezing) to get rid of your warts.

Finally, if you discover an unusual skin growth on your body, ask your doctor about it. Also, consult your doctor if you notice also if you notice new symptoms developing on or around a wart, such as a change in appearance (e.g., colour, size, ulceration, bleeding).

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