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Warts

When to call the doctor

Call the doctor if the wart continues to worsen despite home therapy. If you see no improvement in the wart using salicylic acid after 12 weeks, call the doctor for an appointment to discuss other methods of wart removal.

Call the doctor if the wart changes shape or color. There is the possibility that you are not treating a wart.

Call the doctor if the wart starts bleeding after only a slight brush or bump or if you have difficulty stopping the bleeding while trimming the wart.

Anyone with genital warts   should see a doctor. The treatments described here are not appropriate for genital warts and should not be used.

When to go to the hospital

Aside from pain from Planter Warts  that cannot be controlled with over-the-counter medication, there is no need to visit a hospital's emergency department for wart treatment.

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Self-Care at Home

Home care is effective in making the wart or warts go away. No matter what technique you use, warts will disappear 60-70% of the time. Techniques may be done with or without medication.

The ultimate goal of the medical therapies (not the surgical treatments) is to get your body to recognize the wart as something foreign and to destroy it, much like the body destroys a cold virus.

Adhesive tape therapy

  • Place several layers of waterproof adhesive tape over the wart region (even duct tape). Do not remove the tape for 6 1/2 days. Then take off the tape and open the area to the air for 12 hours. Reapply tape for another 6 1/2 days.
  • The tape works best in the region around the fingernail. This area may scar if cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen is used. Scarring could lead to permanent nail disfiguration.
  • Tape works because the airtight, moist environment under the tape does not allow the virus to grow and reproduce.

Salicylic acid therapy

  • Salicylic acid is available by many different trade names at the drug store. It comes either as a liquid to paint on the wart or as a plaster to be cut out and placed on the wart tissue.
  • The area with the wart should be soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes. The wart should then be pared down with a razor. A simple plastic razor works fine for this, then throw it away. Do not shave far enough to make the wart bleed.
  • Apply the salicylic acid preparation to the wart tissue. Do not apply it to other skin because of salicylic acid's potential to injure normal tissue.
  • Follow directions on the package for how long to apply the acid.
  • If you have genital warts, see a doctor. The treatments described here are not appropriate for genital warts and should not be used.

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Follow-up

Follow the home care plan or treatment given to you by your doctor. Several of the wart-removal treatments, such as liquid nitrogen and laser therapy, may require repeat visits.

If your wart was treated with liquid nitrogen, laser therapy, or surgical removal, apply local wound care. Local wound care includes keeping the area covered with a sterile bandage, applying an antibiotic ointment, and looking for signs of an infection.

Signs of an infection include increasing redness and pain at the treatment site, red streaks going up an extremity toward the heart, pus coming from the wound, or a fever of 101°F or higher. If any of these occur, you need to follow up with your doctor or be seen in a hospital's emergency department.

Prevention

Avoid touching warts on others or touching them on yourself (refrain from rubbing a warty finger across your face). Wear shower shoes in the gym locker room to lower your risk of picking up the virus that causes plantar warts from the moist environment.

Outlook

Most warts will disappear without treatment in 6 months to 3 years. Warts tend to return though.

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