How to banish the common wart

 

Last updated 9/7/2007 at Noon



It’s August and one store has Halloween decorations out (seems sooner every year). While looking at a particularly bumpy witch, the topic for this Medical Minute was conceived: warts. We are going to discuss the unsightly warts we get on our hands.

Usually, a wart is flesh-colored and has an uneven top and smooth, distinct borders. The common wart is also known as Verruca vulgaris. The cause is one of many strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

This virus is contagious with contact and, according to my grandmother, brought on by being rude to an elder – so be polite and don’t touch another’s wart. What happens is the virus takes over the skin cell and forces it to make more little viruses. This engorges the cell with the little beasties until it bursts, thus spreading the virus to other cells. If you look closely at your Verruca vulgaris, you can see little round flesh-colored tissue; this is the engorged cell.


If you cannot decide if the bump on your hand is a common wart, dab a napkin in vinegar and place it on the wart for five minutes. The engorged cells will suck up the vinegar and turn white. Of course, see your doctor if you have any questions.

There are many treatments for warts, from freezing, burning and shocking to cutting, ointments and – my favorite – duct tape!

Let’s start with the incredible duct tape. Put a piece over the wart and change it every few days. Be patient; this will not work overnight, but it will work (just as long as you start being polite!).

The same goes for the topical acid treatments, one being Compound-W. Take your time, use it consistently, place it only on the wart and use it as directed. Remember, this does break down the skin barrier and you can get an infection. If it becomes red or painful, see your doctor.


Steven J. Schutz, a Certified Physician’s Assistant, owns Temecula 24-hour Urgent Care. For information, call (951) 308-4451.

 

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