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What Is A Wart?

   By: Dale Viviano

The Common Wart: What it Is and How to Treat It

Many people will end up with a wart at one time or another, especially during childhood or the young adult years. These harmless skin growths are caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus, or HPV. The type of HPV that causes a wart will affect the surface of the skin creating a small bump that is rough to the touch. The most common places to find them are on the hands and fingers, particularly around the nails. However, they can occur anywhere on the body, including the bottom of the feet and the genitals. These are generally treated differently than the common wart, and usually require your doctor's care.

Treatment Options Although a wart is harmless and many will go away on their own, they can be contagious and bothersome enough to seek treatment. There are choices in over the counter treatments that contain salicylic acid, like Compound W. Your doctor can also offer treatment options like a stronger medicine that might come in the form of an injection. He can also use cryotherapy, which is the process of freezing the wart off with liquid nitrogen. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove one of these growths, through a process of electro or laser procedures.

Since warts are harmless growths more often than not, no further treatment is generally needed once the initial growth is removed. Most doctors can identify these types of growths by a visual diagnosis alone. However, there are times when a doctor will decide to biopsy the area that is removed. This may occur if the growth bleeds, grows rapidly, or is darker than the rest of the skin. A biopsy is simply taking a part of the wart and studying the cells under a microscope.

Prevention For most, the removal of the growth is the end of the process. However, some people are more susceptible to the HPV virus, which can make getting rid of warts completely a bit more challenging. For those who seem to fight a constant battle against these conditions, there are steps you can take in prevention. First, avoid spreading the virus to other parts of your body by combing, brushing, shaving or clipping the area where the growth appears. Since the growths tend to thrive in a moist environment, keep your hands as dry as possible and wash them thoroughly after touching your wart.

Warts are a harmless skin condition caused by HPV. However, this doesn't stop them from being annoying and contagious, which leads many to seek treatment and removal of the growth. If you suspect that you have a wart, check your pharmacy for over the counter treatments or talk to your doctor today.

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