Warts – and how to treat them often falls into the category of things we secretly google because we are too embarrassed to ask. This unwelcome, yet incredibly common skin condition is something we treat all the time at Papillon Medical. Thankfully, Dr. Reed Hogben operates his Wart Treatment Clinic at our downtown Calgary location, 4 days a week.
Warts are benign (aka not cancerous) growths that take root on the surface of your skin and can be very difficult to remove. It can even be considered a war of wills because of how stubborn they are and that they are caused by a virus that the body must fight off. At Papillon Medical Dermatology Laser Centre, we offer a variety of wart treatments that can safely and effectively remove warts. There is no referral necessary for our specialty wart clinic and an initial assessment can be done in a matter of days.
Now here are some common beliefs about warts and you decide if they are Fact or Fiction?
* * This info applies primarily to warts of the feet and hands.
- Warts are a virus
Fact. A wart is a benign growth of the skin, due to infection with a virus.
- Warts are contagious
Fact. The virus can enter through breaks in the skin’s surface after direct contact with a wart or with recently shed viruses still alive in a warm, moist environment, such as a shower or beside a pool. The time between infection and wart development may be many months. You can reduce your chances of infection by wearing sandals and not biting your nails.
- It’s a “Planter’s Wart”
Fiction. There is no such thing as a planter’s wart, although it could be a plantar wart – the Latin term designating the sole of the foot. A wart on the bottom of the foot is a … plantar wart. Because of the constant pressure of walking, plantar warts are often hard and thick and push against the underlying skin.
- Warts have “roots”
Fiction. HPV has only been found in the two outermost layers of the skin, those that would comprise the “roof” of a typical friction blister. One result of the infection is the widening of the small blood vessels within the wart making them prone to leaking with subsequent clotting. The dark red to black coloured clots are sometimes called roots or “seeds”.
- Warts go away on their own
Partly Fact. Without treatment warts will resolve in about 50% of cases within a year – two-thirds after two years. However, warts that do not resolve frequently enlarge and spread becoming more difficult to treat. New warts are three times more common in those patients with existing warts. Don’t hesitate to call and book at the first onset of the wart.
- Warts come from playing with frogs
Fiction. The virus is named HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and only infects us. There are over 100 strains, many of which cause warts in different areas of the body. About 7- 10% of our population has warts at any given time. Children and young adults are most susceptible and warts are a little more common in women than men.
Ultimately, it is a patient’s immune system, which will cure their warts, by killing the virus. The wart is like a nest for the virus and the goal of available treatments is to destroy the nest or help your immune system kill the virus or both. Destructive treatments remove part of the “home” of the virus while simultaneously causing an irritation, hoping to stimulate an immune system response. Immunologic treatments help the immune system in some way.
Don’t let your new summer pool souvenir get in the way of your self confidence. Book in for a wart removal assessment with Dr. Hogben to find out your many treatment options.