Treat warts properly: How to identify warts and treat them effectively

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Updated July 1, 2020, 12:52 p.m.

They are triggered by viruses and can be very persistent: warts. But how do you get rid of these unsightly skin growths?

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They can grow on fingers, feet, on the face, but also in the genital area and cause trouble to those affected by pain and itching, but also for cosmetic reasons: warts. Here you can find out how to properly treat these skin growths and at best get rid of them quickly.

What are warts? And how do they come about?

Warts are benign skin growths that are caused by viruses (mostly human papilloma viruses, in short: HPV) and often disappear on their own – however, months or even years can pass by then. They can get into the body through cracked skin, be it by shaking hands or walking barefoot in the swimming pool.

When the skin is softened, the viruses are easier to penetrate. The infection is also promoted by sweaty feet, attacked skin (such as neurodermatitis), a weakened immune system, tendency to allergies or smoking, stress and diabetes. Children and adolescents get warts relatively quickly when they first come into contact with the pathogens and their body does not yet have an immune response.

Caution is advised when scratching one’s own warts: the viruses can quickly spread to other parts of the body, where they can also spread. However, “fake” warts are not contagious, as they are not caused by viruses.

What types of warts are there?

A distinction is made between the following types of warts:

  • Vulgar warts: They are the best known and most common warts. In 70 percent of cases, the affected person is this, also known as spiked warts, common or common warts, which mainly occurs on the hand or foot and is about the size of a pin head or a pea. First of all, it stands out due to its smooth surface, which is increasingly cornified as it grows and has a mostly greyish color.
  • Brush warts: The special shape of the vulgar warts is reminiscent of a small brush and often grows on the eyelids, lips, nose or neck of older people.
  • Flat warts: These little raised, bright warts, also known as planar warts or juvenile warts, mostly appear on the face or on the hands in childhood. They are often only a few millimeters in size.
  • Warts on the soles of the feet: A distinction is made between mosaic warts and mandrel warts. Mosaic warts have their name because of their arrangement and usually do not cause any complaints. Thorny warts, on the other hand, grow inwards and can therefore cause stinging pain when walking.
  • Genital warts: Genital warts are skin growths in the genital area. These warts, also called genital warts, wet warts or pointed condylomas, often appear frequently and appear reddish, brownish or whitish in color. They are one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases – mostly due to smear infections.
  • “fake” warts: Some warts are not caused by HPV and are therefore not real warts. The “fake” warts include Dell warts, age warts and stem warts. Dell warts are triggered by a group of smallpox viruses and often have a typical dent in the middle. It often affects children. Age warts, in turn, usually only appear from the age of 50 – predominantly on the chest, back and face – they are not contagious. The stalk warts, which are particularly widespread in old age, or soft fibromas arise from the growth of certain connective tissue cells. They are also harmless and not contagious.

What can I do about warts?

Basically, there is usually no medical reason why a wart should be removed. The body can defend itself against the growths, but it takes around twelve to 24 months. There are no scars left. However, if warts trigger great pain or are very disruptive, for example from a cosmetic point of view, they can be combated with medication or surgery. In particular, invasive measures should only be used in exceptional cases.

Home remedies for warts

If you want to get unsightly warts naturally and without chemicals, you can rely on various home remedies or homeopathy. Among other things, various oils such as tea tree, lavender or castor oil are said to help because they have an antiseptic and antiviral effect.

Some swear by garlic – freshly sliced ​​or in the form of high-dose garlic preparations – or by sour people like apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to dry out the wart, some even on their own urine. Even if that sounds daunting, it can be worth trying to catch the morning median jet for a week and dab it on the wart without washing off the urine. With other skin problems such as neurodermatitis, urine works wonders in part.

Various plant and natural substances such as the milk juice of celandine and dandelion, thuja or silicea should also be able to work against small skin growths. In the form of homeopathic medicine, a preliminary consultation with a specialist in homeopathy is advisable.

Medicines for warts

Prescription-free wart remedies that contain salicylic acid or lactic acid are available from the pharmacy without a prescription. As a solution, sprays, ointments or plasters, they fight warts by dissolving their horny layer. The dissolved cornea must then be carefully removed regularly. The use of formic acid, in turn, causes the wart to dry out from the inside and ultimately to be rejected by the body. Fluorouracil additionally helps to inhibit the growth of the wart.

An altered immune system can cause warts to increase during pregnancy. As with toddlers, however, medication should only be used in moderation. Better: be patient and wait for yourself to heal – or go to the doctor.

What can doctors do about warts?

Dermatologists have several options for treating warts.

  • Kryotherapie: The warts are iced up using liquid nitrogen and certain cells are killed. Sessions often have to be repeated several times. There are even over-the-counter icing pens, but their effectiveness has not yet been proven.
  • Lasermethode: Warts can be heated up considerably by laser beams and destroyed in this way.
  • Curettage: The previously softened wart is removed with the so-called curette after local anesthesia.
  • Elektrokoagulation: The wart is burned with the help of electric current. The type of treatment is unsuitable for growths that tend to grow inwards.

No matter how itchy in the fingers: pedicle warts should never be cut off by the patient himself or tied with a thread. This could lead to dangerous inflammation. (Tsch)

Sources used:

  • NetDoktor: “Warts”
  • Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung: “What helps against warts?”
  • Hautinfo.at: “Treat warts properly”

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