Medi 2004 September

Health Matters

What are warts?

The wart virus infects skin and makes it grow faster than normal and become toughened. Warts are most common on the hands, feet and face, but they can grow almost anywhere in the body. They are infectious and some people, especially children, are more susceptible than others.

A verrucca is a wart that grows on the sole of the foot. It grows into the skin rather than out because it is pressed on when you walk. Your body will build up resistance over a period of time and eventually the warts will disappear. This may take months or sometimes years, but is the natural way the body deals with warts. If you allow them to disappear in this way you may escape any further ones as you will then be immune to that virus.

How can you get rid of warts?

There are two methods for getting rid of warts, either by freezing with liquid nitrogen or using wart paint or gel.

Wart paints and gels.

Every night after washing or soaking to soften the affected area you should:

 •  Rub away at the white, dead warty skin with a pumice stone or skin file, so that you get the top layer of the wart off before each treatment.
 •  Apply wart paint or gel (available from the chemist) getting as little as possible onto the surrounding skin.
 •  Put a piece of surgical tape (micropore - from chemist) over the wart big enough to stop the paint getting rubbed off on the bed clothes overnight, or use the self sealing gel such as Bazooka.


You will need to keep going until you get down just below the level of the surrounding skin to eradicate a wart completely. Stop when the base of the wart looks exactly like normal skin (i.e., no black dots or graininess) If they become sore or bleed a little, just leave off the treatment and carry on the following night. If verruccas are painful to walk on try covering them with a corn plaster - the type with a hole in the middle.

Liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)

Available at the surgery: This method can cause pain, soreness and blistering but can cure 50% of warts after one or more treatment. Cryotherapy may cure some warts more quickly than wart gel or paint, but it will not cure more warts.

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