It is a sad fact of life that warts and humans have been keeping close company for millennia. Many potions, lotions, and cures have been designed and applied, but still, the growths persist. Common warts are benign non-cancerous skin growths of the top layer of skin and mucous membranes. They are skin colored, rough to the touch, dome-shaped, and usually grow around the nails, on fingers or the back of hands.
Common warts are caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV). More than 100 strains have been identified, and at least 60 are known to cause warts. Specifically, types 1, 2, 4, 27, and 29 are the most frequent HPV strains to infect people and cause a wart to develop.
HPV strikes where the skin is broken, for example, cuts and scratches or where fingernails have been bitten and skin has been damaged in the process. Warts can spread from person to person and from one part of the body to the other. For these reasons, doctors recommend that if you touch a wart you should wash your hands immediately.
HPV causes unusual growth of cells at the base of the outer layer of skin. Contrary to popular belief common warts do not have deep roots; they stay on the surface of the skin and are completely harmless.
Scientists believe that there are several reasons why some individuals are affected by warts, and others remain trouble-free. These include the type and strength of the viral strain, the health of the exposed person, and the strength of an individual’s immune response.
Common warts appear mostly on the hands and feet and are round, raised growths. They are more common in young adults and children. A common wart can range in size from a pinhead to 10 mm.
Common warts are painless with one exception. If the wart develops on the bottom of the foot (known as a plantar wart), then the pressure of walking on the wart causes it to grow inward instead of outward and they are often quite painful.
Other than plantar warts, common warts rarely cause any other problems except for being an eyesore, especially for the people that are suffering with the common wart.
How to Get Rid of Common Warts
Like all wart treatments, common wart remedies require patience. There is no overnight cure. One treatment option is to ignore them. Warts eventually go away, though this may sometimes take years for the immune system to get rid of them. If you can’t bear to see common warts on any part of your body then over the counter ointments, plasters, and patches may work.
Combination therapies are known to have reasonable success rates, where two or more agents are applied. Or see a doctor who can freeze common warts with liquid nitrogen or zap them with electricity or laser light. Duct tape, which can be purchased from a hardware store has also been used as a treatment. The regime lasts for about two months and involves leaving a piece of duct tape on a wart for six days at a time, then removing it, scrubbing the area with an emery board and repeating the process.
According to one study (Focht III D, Spicer C, Fairchok M. The Efficacy of Duct Tape vs. Cryotherapy in the Treatment of Verruca Vulgaris (the Common Wart). Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 2002; 156:971-4) 85% of the warts disappeared within four weeks and the treatment was as effective as freezing. However, more recent research suggests that a wart is more likely to reappear with duct tape treatment (Wenner R et al. Duct Tape for the Treatment of Common Warts in Adults. Archives of Dermatology 2007; 143:309-13).
Common Warts References:
1. Dermatology Nursing Feb. 2008, Vol. 20 No. 1
2. pulsetoday.co.uk 19 November 2008