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Illnesses & Symptoms


Warts.pngGeneral Information

Warts are caused by viruses and are more common in children than adults.  They are generally harmless, but sometimes cause pain or can cause embarrassment.

The virus that causes warts tends to prefer warm moist places (such as the feet) or areas of broken skin (such as a scratch on the hand).  The virus is spread from contact with an object, such as a towel or carpet, that has been touched by someone with a wart.  Picking at a wart can spread the virus more easily.

Not everyone exposed to a wart develops a wart.  Some people seem predisposed to getting many warts.  The amount of time from when a person is exposed to the time he develops a wart varies.  Warts can grow very slowly and often are not noticed for weeks to months.  They last between 6 months and 2 years before they resolve without treatment

Types of warts

Common Warts: These develop on the hands, knees and elbows as a small hard bump that is dome-shaped and gray/brown.  It has a rough head that looks like a cauliflower with black dots inside.
Flat Warts: These are small (pinhead sized) and smooth with a flat top. They may be pink, tan or yellow. They are common on the face, arms, knees, or hands, and often appear in clusters.
Plantar Warts: These are found on the soles of the feet and look like a dry area or callus or may look like a common wart. They can become painful from the pressure of walking or standing.
Filiform Warts: These warts are common around the mouth, eyes or nose. They tend to be flesh colored and grow out like a stalk or finger.
Molluscum Contagiosum: These warts are flesh-colored and dome shaped with a central dimple or white plug. Learn more about molluscum contagiosum.
Sexually Transmitted: These warts appear on the genitals (or in the mouth).  They often are not seen except by a gynecologist. The HPV vaccine prevents some of these. See the VIS on HPV and Dr. Stuppy's favorite HPV article for more information.

Treatments of warts

  • Warts will go away on their own without treatment in 6-24 months.  If they do not cause pain or problems, many children prefer to leave them untreated.
  • Vitamin E oil can be applied nightly to warts.  You can poke a hole in a vitamin capsule with a clean needle, squirt some oil onto the wart, and irritate the wart by gently poking with the needle or using a pumice stone or nail file.  (Younger children prefer the nail file.)  It can take 8-12 weeks of daily treatment for resolution.
  • Duct tape has been shown to cure warts.  Studies show warts are cured by putting duct tape over a wart and leaving it on for 6 days, off for 1 day, then repeating until the wart is gone.  We find that it is nearly impossible to leave the same tape on for a week!  We recommend putting the vitamin E oil on (as above), then a piece of duct tape overnight. Repeat this nightly until the wart is gone.
  • Freezing was a common treatment in the physician office until several years ago when freezing kits went over the counter. You can purchase a bottle and treat at home every 2 weeks. We recommend making contact with the wart for 60 seconds (or as long as tolerated by the child). It is ideal if the wart looks frozen white when finished.  Be careful to not freeze healthy skin. The day you freeze, cover with a band aid. The area may become black and fall off after freezing.  This is normal, but does not always occur. While awaiting the 2 week mark to repeat the freezing, you can do the vitamin E / duct tape as described above for 13 days.
  • Over the counter medications, such as salicylic acid, are sometimes helpful, but less so than the methods above. If used, be careful to avoid healthy skin when applying the acid. It is normal for the skin to peel during treatments.
  • You can soak the wart in warm water and use a nail file to gently remove dead skin before any treatment. Use this nail file only for warts; never use it to file nails unless you want to spread the warts!
  • In our office we can apply Cantharone Plus for wart destruction. Check your insurance plan to see if wart treatments are a covered benefit. For many plans it is not since over the counter options are available. The CPT code for treatment is 17110. You can ask your insurance representative how they process the code (whether they pay for it or if you will, and if it applies to deductible).

Warts that need to see a doctor

  • Infants or young children with warts.
  • Warts on the face, genitals or rectum.
  • Warts under nails or in the nail bed.
  • Warts that are painful and not responding to the treatment above after 6-8 weeks (completely gone in 8-12 weeks).
  • Warts that appear infected:  Painful, red, bleeding, swollen, or oozing pus.
  • Not all insurance plans cover wart treatment. Call your insurance to know your responsibilities prior to treatment. The CPT code for treatment is 17110. You can ask your insurance representative how they process the code (whether they pay for it or if you will, and if it applies to deductible).
  • Click here for Related Documents: Treatment of Warts with Cantharone Plus and At Home Care.

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Illnesses & Symptoms