So you think you may have a wart. A wart is a virus, and like any virus, it is not easy to get rid of. The good news is that we have been treating these things for years and have some pretty good ideas on what works and what doesn't!
- Leaving it alone: Well, you probably tried that one for a while and it obviously is not working if you are reading this. This is one virus that can and should be treated or it can get out of control and your wart may multiply!
- Freezing it: Can be painful and require multiple treatments. If the wart is on the top of the foot, you may have a better chance of getting rid of it that way. If it is on the bottom of the foot where the skin is thicker, this method will not usually work. The over-the-counter stuff does not penetrate deep enough to make much of a difference in either case.
- Salicylic acid: This is what you typically get with the over-the-counter wart remover patches/creams/gels and in many different concentrations. Success depends on the concentration, how it is placed along with how often it is applied. This acid does not discriminate between wart and healthy skin and can in some cases cause damage to the surrounding skin. This in turn, can allow the wart to spread! Yikes!
- Cantharidin: This is a blistering agent. You probably have not heard of this since this treatment since it is performed in a doctor’s office. This stuff will usually cause more than mild discomfort and can frankly be quite painful along with developing the resultant blood-filled blister. Anywhere from 3-6 treatments is typically needed.
- Duct tape: Now we are getting closer. The idea behind duct tape is that by covering the wart you irritate it and this in turn causes an immune response by the body. Duct tape by itself is only about 10% effective in adults. This method works better with topical agents (prescriptive creams) which we will get to.
- Topical agents: Yes, there are several which are effective on a wart under occlusion (this is where the duct tape really helps!) Again, along with irritating the wart, the duct tape also keeps the wart soft so the cream can penetrate better. Any topical treatment requires consistency of use and visits to a podiatrist at least every two weeks for removal any overlying callus build up, otherwise you end up only treating callus while the wart lives on protected underneath! There are two compounds which are particularly effective on warts:
- Imiquimod (Aldara)
- Bleomycin injection: This is the hard core way of getting rid of a wart fast. This agent is, in fact, a chemotherapeutic agent which, once injected into the wart (yes, this is an injection!), causes the wart to turn black and fall out over the course of the month! The advantage of this procedure is that there is no daily application of cream/ duct tapes etc… This treatment is very effective and close to 100% effective with one to three injections. Definitely the best odds with this one! With anything this good, there does come some unpleasantness. For one, it is an injection. The wart and the surrounding area do need to be numbed with an injection of local anesthetic first so you do not feel the Bleomycin injection. There is little doubt you will also have some pain afterwards because your wart was just injected with some pretty powerful stuff!
Unfortunately, when it comes to warts, there is no fail safe way to keep them away, but certain things are for sure; the longer you wait, the longer it will take to get rid of it. The longer you wait, the more likely the wart will multiply!
If we haven’t made ourselves clear enough, don't delay! We will help you in your decision making on what process will work best for you!