Defining the Common Wart
Everyone knows what a wart is and many people have them. Most of them can be spread by contact and some will linger on for years while others seem to disappear literally overnight. The common wart is actually a viral infection which produces a harmless tumor in the top layer - epidermis - of the skin. This virus is directed related to the human papillomavirus or HPV. There are various strains of HPV which in turn cause different types of warts.
Warts only grow in the upper most layer of the skin and do not root. Instead, if the wart grows inward, it pushes the dermis layer rather than grow into or through it. Warts do not all look alike. Some look like a head of cauliflower while others just look like a tough spot on the skin. What happens is that columns of cylindrical shaped skin grow tightly together and they never quite grow the same way, thus creating different shaped warts.
Appearances as well as location can determine how warts affect your every day life. For example, a common wart on a finger or pad of a thumb is a nuisance and an eyesore, but does not hurt. However, a plantar wart on the sole of your foot can become quite painful and may require professional removal by a doctor. A subungual wart is one that occurs under and around the fingernail and it can be quite an eyesore. Genital warts are self-explanatory in their location.
Anyone can get warts, but the common wart found on hands and fingers typically happen to kids and young adults. The wart can spread through direct contact but it is hit or miss as to whether it actually does spread. Some people may have warts for years before they go away and those with immune related illnesses may never be rid of them.
Treatment for warts varies from over the counter remedies to medical intervention. One over the counter treatment has salicylic acid in it which must be applied to the wart every day. You administer it and allow it to dry. The goal is for one layer at a time to fall off until the wart is gone. To hasten the process, you might want to consider buffing the wart with an emory board or pumice stone and then soaking it in warm water before applying the salicylic acid.
Some people swear by duct tape, that gray super sticky stuff which is tough. By applying a piece of tape every day, removing and adding new pieces, it wears down the layers of the wart, hopefully eventually getting down to nothing.
Medically, cryotherapy is one treatment of warts which involves the use of liquid nitrogen and its application on the wart. The object of the treatment is to freeze the wart cells and kill them but keep the surround tissue intact. A blister usually forms over the removal site which later ruptures and scabs over until it falls off. Cryotherapy is not an option for plantar warts as placing any weight on the foot can be quite painful after the therapy.
Surgically excising a wart is an option as are prescription topical medications and injections which include formalin, Retin-A, lactic acid and more. Your doctor will examine your circumstances before suggesting a course of treatment for your warts.