A close look on warts

Warts are described as benign tumors in the epidermis due to a virus. The virus responsible is the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus stays in the bottom layer of the epidermis and replicates into almost normal-looking skin. Take note that the human papillomavirus sub-types can also cause cervical cancer and other obscure variants of wart-related cancers.

Myth of the wart root

Contrary to the popular belief, warts do not have “roots”. They only grow in the upper skin layer and once they grow downwards, they put out of place the second skin layer. Take note that they do not grow into the dermis and the base of the wart is essentially flat.

Appearance of warts

It is important to note that warts typically grow out of the skin in cylinder-like columns. The columns will not combine once the wart develops on thin areas of the skin particularly the face. As for those on thick skin, the columns combine and packed densely together to provide the surface the distinctive mosaic pattern. In some cases, black dots can even be seen. These are actually blood vessels that have grown rapidly and irregularly into the wart and have clotted off.


Warts can develop in individuals of all ages, but usually among children and even young adults.

Who are at risk for warts?

Warts can develop in individuals of all ages, but usually among children and even young adults. Warts multiply via direct exposure by simply touching the wart. Take note that they normally resolve spontaneously but the time it to vanish tends to vary. Most cases of warts settle within weeks or months, but some might take years.

The susceptibility of an individual to develop warts and the time it takes for them to vanish is linked to the immune system of the individual. Those who have immune-related diseases such as lymphoma and AIDs or those under chemotherapy usually have warts that last longer.

Treatment for warts

Most cases of warts can be managed with simple over-the-counter remedies. As for those who are resistant to these measures, other forms of treatment are effective.

Salicylic acid is commonly used and an effective over-the-counter treatment, but this requires consistent application on a daily basis. The ideal way to use salicylic acid is to initially pare the wart using a blade, pumice stone, scrub brush or emery board. You can soak the wart in warm water to aid in the absorption of the medicine. Salicylic acid is applied over the wart and then allowed to dry. The unaffected surrounding skin can be protected with petroleum jelly.

You can also occlude the treated wart using Band-Aid or a piece of tape to improve the absorption of the medication. The procedure must be repeated on a daily basis ideally around bath or shower time. Take note that salicylic acid is available in various forms such as dense oil or included in an adhesive plaster.

Cryotherapy is also another efficient form of treatment for warts. This involves the use of liquid nitrogen as a spray or on a cotton swab that is applied to the wart. It works by freezing and killing the affected cells.


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