A wart is a fleshy growth on the skin caused by infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). A Verruca is another name for a type of wart (plantar warts) that is usually found on the soles of the feet. About one in ten people have warts at any one time and nearly everyone has at least one wart at some point in their lives. The virus is more prevalent among children and adolescents.
Warts occur more commonly on areas of skin that are likely to be damaged, such as fingers, elbows, knees and the face. Although warts can be unsightly and embarrassing for people who have them, the common type of wart generally causes no harm and most will eventually disappear by themselves within six months to two years.
Laser treatment of warts/veruccae is an effective alternative to traditional treatments and is particularly suitable for large or widespread warts and veruccae that have failed to respond to other treatments. Fotona's Nd:YAG range of lasers are an effective way of removing warts and veruccae since they target the dilated blood vessels at the base of the wart as well as effectively destroying the virus and disinfecting the surrounding tissue.
In most cases warts and veruccae that are treated with lasers are permanently removed after one treatment. In contrast to surgical removal, laser treatment causes no scarring, and generally requires no anaesthesia making it particularly suitable for the treatment of children.Alternatively an erbium laser can be used to gently remove the wart layer by layer. Clinical results show that there is no risk that the treatment will spread the virus. Skin tags or polyps, and other wart-like skin growths are also treated by laser. Scarring is minimal.
A variety of creams, gels and medicated plasters are available from pharmacies. Most of these contain salicylic acid as their active ingredient, which works by destroying the thickened skin which makes up the wart. Once destroyed, this skin can be rubbed off with an abrasive board or pumice stone.
Silver nitrate is another non-prescription treatment that also burns away warts. In addition to 'over-the-counter' medications there are several other chemical treatments that are available on prescription including formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, and podophyllin.
One of the most common treatments for warts is Cryotherapy, which uses a spray of liquid carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. Once treated a blister develops, followed by a scab, which falls off a week to ten days later, removing the wart. The risks from cryotherapy include scarring, ulceration, or pigment alteration. Often medical practitioners will surgically remove the wart using a curette to scrape the wart away. With all surgery there is the possibility of scarring and in addition surgical removal of the wart carries a small risk of spreading the virus.