Some warts are just more resilient than others. If warts have begun spreading, or if more mild treatments don't work, there are other options available:
- Surgical removal. A wart can be removed for good the old-fashioned way, through surgery. Doctors will cut around the wart to excise it. This requires local anesthesia and may cause scarring.
- Laser surgery. Warts can be eliminated using CO2 lasers or electric lasers. Scarring is common, and this option is normally reserved for warts that haven't reacted to other treatments. Lasers use a strong, focused beam of light to burn off warts. CO2 lasers essentially vaporize the wart, causing it to burn and blister. Your body's immune response will then kick in and finish destroying the wart and healing the skin from within.
- Pulsed dye laser. This laser option reportedly removes warts 95 percent of the time [source: Feet for Life]. Unlike CO2 lasers, pulsed dye lasers don't normally leave scars behind, and three out of four people will lose the wart in three treatments or less [source: AOCD]. The wart's red blood cells absorb the light, cutting off the blood supply.
- Electric needle. Burning off a wart surgically with an electric needle has the same effectiveness as a CO2 laser. Doctors will apply the electric needle to its base, cutting it off at the skin. It will cause some scarring.
- Antigen shot (immunotherapy). This form of treatment involves the injection of antigens, foreign bodies your immune system will recognize as invasive agents. Candida antigen, derived from the same yeast that causes yeast infections, is often used. This prompts your immune system to rush immune cells to the scene (the wart) to destroy the injected antigen, and the wart along with it. There is no scarring, but the injections themselves can be painful.
- Needling. This process involves jabbing the wart numerous times with a needle, then injecting it with cortisone.
You'll find an option that works for you when it comes to getting rid of warts. Of course, the best offense is a strong defense, and there have been several recent medical breakthroughs in developing vaccines against the strains of HPV that cause warts. One vaccine available protects against two HPV strains responsible for nine out of 10 warts.
For lots more information on warts and skin care, please see the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Warts: Removal by Freezing." (Oct. 2, 2009)http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/skin/treatment/105.html
- American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. "Warts." (Sep. 28, 2009)http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/warts.html
- Associated Press. "Study: Duct tape wart cure overstated." USA Today. Mar. 19, 2007.http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-03-19-duct-tape_N.htm
- Feet for Life Podiatry Center. "Plantar Warts." (Oct. 2, 2009)http://www.podiatryinfo.com/r11.html
- Medical College of Georgia. "New HPV Vaccine Under Study." ScienceDaily. Nov. 20, 2007. (Sept. 30, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119113902.htm
- Medical News Today. "Dermatologists Use Antigen Shots to Alleviate Warts without Scarring." July 22, 2005. (Sep. 28, 2009)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/27573.php
- Merck Manuals. "Warts." Oct. 2008. (Oct. 2, 2009)http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec10/ch122/ch122c.html
- Miller, Karl E., M.D." Duct Tape More Effective than Cryotherapy for Warts." American Family Physician. Feb. 1, 2003.http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030201/tips/8.html
- University of Queensland (2006, February 14). "Scientists Tweak Cervical Cancer Vaccine Technology To Fight Most Common Sexually Transmitted Disease -- Genital Warts." ScienceDaily. Feb. 14, 2006. (Oct. 1, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060213104113.htm
- WebMD. "Retinoid cream for warts." Sept. 11, 2008. (Oct. 2, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/retinoid-tretinoin-cream-for-warts
- WebMD. "Skin Condition: Warts." (Sep. 28, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/warts
- WebMD. "Warts: 10 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions." (Sep. 28, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/warts-faq-questions-answers