Wart Removal – Turning Mountains Into Molehills
Wart removal is one of the challenges of modern dermatology. Warts are hard lumps on your skin that have proved to be very hard to get rid of. This overview will tell you a little about what they are, why they are so tenacious, and some possible ways to help get rid of warts.
The Science Of Warts
Warts are caused by viruses. Whether common skin warts, plantar warts, broad flat warts, or genital warts, they are all caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Wart infection is common, and spread through contact – even using a communal hand towel can do it. Genital warts come under the category of a sexually transmitted disease. Like any virus, warts thrive best in a host with easy access to the bloodstream, a warm, moist environment, and a weak immune system. While they can pop up anywhere, their favourite spots are around moist body orifices, places of cracked skin like the edges of fingernails, or places irritated by activities like shaving. People with compromised immune systems, or even just weakened defenses, are more susceptible to catching warts.
Wart Warfare, A Hard Battle
Wart treatment keeps many medical practitioners busy, utilizing several standard tools, and a few unusual ones. The general idea takes one or more of three approaches: 1) scratch, burn or debride the wart off layer by layer; 2) cut the wart away; 3) bolster the body’s immune system against the virus.
Freezing warts with liquid nitrogen, painting them with salicylic acid solutions like Compound W or other chemical peels, and laser therapy all try to kill the wart a layer at a time, scraping it off or allowing it to fall off between sessions. These approaches usually take multiple treatments to work, one wart at a time.
Surgery is used after more conservative efforts fail. Electrically shocking or cutting the tissue out removes the wart, but the virus remains. The body can take care of it, or the wart might recur.
Wart injections are showing promise. Immune-stimulating shots under a wart can trigger the body’s defenses to attack the wart virus. Sometimes treating one wart this way gets the body to remove all warts, a surprising economy of treatment that is being further studied. If you are new to warts, take heart in the knowledge that many warts disappear after a few months as the body figures out how to fight the HPV.
Natural Wart Cures – What About Duct Tape?
Natural wart remedies abound in folklore and online. Since warts are a simple but stubborn infection that sometimes clears up on its own, nobody knows for sure what home cures really work or not. Duct tape came to prominence for warts in 2002. The method is, you keep a wart covered with genuine duct tape – no dollar-store versions allowed – for seven days, uncover and scrape it on the eighth day, and repeat until gone. Some say the rubbery adhesive triggers an immune response, others that the strong adhesive pulls the layers away. Essential oils, including tea tree oil, have a similar effect to acid approaches described above. Herbal or supplemental immune-boosting products aim to help the body fight the infection. Hypnotherapy is said to mobilize the body’s natural defenses as well. Wart removal remains a thorny and difficult subject. The best treatment is always prevention – wash your hands, keep your skin in one piece, and use a healthy lifestyle and diet to maintain your immune system. Oh, and don’t kiss any old witches on the nose. Tony Berryman is a freelance writer and registered massage therapist in Vancouver, Canada.