Warts are benign growths on the skin which are the result of a specific viral infection. Although they may occur at any age, they are most common in the 10-20 year-old age group. It is estimated that 10% of teenagers have warts. Almost everyone will get one or more warts in their lifetime. As with other infections, warts may be transmitted from one individual to another. They may also be contracted from inanimate objects (for example, the cements around a swimming pool).
Warts may occur on any location of the skin. In different locations, they have different appearances. This accounts for the many confusing names given to warts. For instance, the plantar warts are merely warts found on the soles (plantar area) of the feet.
“The strangest thing about warts is that they tend to go away. Fully grown, nothing in the body has so much the look of toughness or permanence as the wart, and yet, inexplicably and often very abruptly, they come to the end of their lives and disappear.”
- On Warts : Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail
Warts resolve because the body’s immune response destroys them as it does with other infections. Thereafter, an immunity to the wart virus develops. Because warts vanish without treatment in most cases, the routine treatment of every wart is unnecessary and undesirable.
In general, the therapy of warts is nonspecific, destructive, and often painful. For these reasons, it is often wise to proceed slowly and with gentle methods at first, especially in children. Some of the methods we use are the destructive chemicals (Duofilm, Canthardin, and for genital warts, Podophyllin). Liquid nitrogen, an electric needle, and Zonas tape occlusion. Some people believe suggestion or hypnosis may cure warts. No matter what treatment, 1 in 3 treated warts will recur. However, in most cases, after a few treatment sessions, the patient will be free of warts.