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Usually on the fingers but can occur anywhere.

The commonest type of wart is a viral wart. These are the common warts which are typically passed between children at school. They are caused by invisible viruses infecting the outer layer of the skin.

The commonest sites are the fingers and feet (where they are called Verrucas) but any body site can be affected. Warts are less common in adults but can be very troublesome in adults who have reduced immunity for any reason, Patients with a tendency to eczema also have an increased predisposition to warts.

Treatments include - skin surface wart paints, freezing the skin with medical spray guns of various types and laser burning. Surface paints are relatively painless and work so long as they are applied regularly (at least 4 times per week). Before each new application, the dead skin from the previous paint application must be thoroughly removed by builders abrasive sand paper or pumice stone.

Sometimes treatment takes several months to be fully effective. Freezing treatment (cryotherapy or liquid nitrogen therapy) is very commonly used by dermatologists and is highly effective. However, it is a bit painful and causes blistering and scabbing lasting about 1 week after treatment.

At least 4 treatments are usually needed for common warts and sometimes many more for large or multiple warts. For all these reasons (especially the pain at the time of treatment), young children are not usually able to tolerate this cryotherapy and frequently end up using simple wart paints.

Early treatment and good advice about how to self-treat will often prevent progression to a more troublesome condition. A rapid consultation can stop a simple problem from accelearating, use 'consult the specialist' here.

by Dr John Ashworh

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