Almost everyone will experience a wart at some point in their life. When you discover these annoying growths, the first question is probably going to be about how to get rid of it. Nobody enjoys having a wart growing on their body, after all. So what’s the first step to take? When it comes to treatment, there are many different options. There’s at-home removal, with wart kits and natural remedies, and there’s also medical procedures. A benefit of medical procedures is having a trained, skilled physician be the one to handle your wart. Whether it’s surgery or just topical medication, having a doctor at your side in the process can be a great benefit.
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Some may think warts are caused by a fungus or bacteria, but they are actually caused by a virus called HPV. It gets into your skin through tiny breaks and settles in the upper epithelial layers. It will stay there for a time, inactive, until “turning on” in a way, activating and replicating itself until it creates a growth that comes out through the skin. This is a wart. They can be anywhere on your body from your face, to your hands, and even your genitals.
Although there is no cure for HPV, there are ways to treat the warts caused by it. There are claims that certain immunomodulary therapies can help your body fight off the virus and kill or permanently deactivate it, but this is not known for sure or considered fact.
When you see a physician for your wart, they may recommend some of the following removal methods:
- Excision: Using a scalpel or another kind of cutting instrument, the doctor will cut the wart out of your skin. They’ll also use a magnifying tool to carefully examine the cut area and make sure that all pieces of the wart are out of the skin. If any pieces are left behind, the wart will just grow back.
For more information click here.Always tell a doctor if you’re pregnant before undergoing treatment.
- Cryotherapy: This procedure uses liquid nitrogen. Nitrogen is normally a gas, but when kept at an extremely cold temperature, turns to liquid. When it touches living tissue like a wart, the cold freezes the cells, creating ice crystals inside the cell’s fluid that then destroy it completely. Because of it’s extremely low boiling point, the liquid will boil on contact and turn into a gas. Your doctor will spray a steady stream of the nitrogen onto your wart until satisfied that the cold has reached deep enough to kill the tissue. Sometimes, more than one application may be needed.
Please see detailed descriptions here.
- Laser Therapy: This therapy uses heat from a laser to kill the wart’s tissue. Using a special tool, your doctor will aim a focused beam onto the wart, burning off the tissue until satisfied that enough has been damaged. Like cryotherapy, more than one visit may be required.
Further details can be found here.
- Electrotherapy: Similar to laser therapy, electrotherapy uses electricity to deliver enough heat to destroy the wart. An electrical current is delivered through a special wand tool that your doctor will touch directly onto the wart. There may be a burning smell and possibly a small amount of smoke, but this is normal. The tool is touched all over the wart’s surface until the heat has reached deep enough to kill all tissue.
Click here for more information about electronic wart treatment.
- Topical Medications: There are many topical creams, gels, and ointments available for wart removal, many of which you can get over the counter. Most of these are for genital warts, which are hard to get to and in an area with much more sensitive skin. Podophyllin Resin is a topical medication that your doctor must carefully apply for you. Medications such as Imiquimod cream can be obtained through a prescription and self-applied under a doctor’s advisement.
If your doctor is applying topical medication onto your genital warts, they might use an ointment like Vaseline on the skin surrounding the wart. Creams like Podophyllin resin are extremely harsh and will damage any tissue, including healthy skin tissue. Your genitals can be especially damaged, considering the tender skin and large amount of nerve endings present, which is why a doctor is required to supervise the application.
- Injections: These work with the immune system to help get rid of a wart. One medication your doctor may use is Candida extract. Injected right underneath the wart in a small amount, the extract stimulates your immune system to focus on the virus causing the wart. The idea is that the virus will be neutralized or even destroyed in that area, making the wart die. For a more detailed definition of candida injection, click here. Another drug that can be injected is the cancer fighting medication called Bleomycin. This works to kill any rapidly-dividing cells, like the ones you find in a wart. Please see detailed descriptions here.
Getting a wart surgically removed from your skin may sound frightening to some people, though there’s really no need to worry. Your doctor will not only numb the area so no pain is felt during the procedure, they’ll gladly address any kinds of worries you may have. For more information on wart removal surgery, go here.
When You Should See A Doctor About Your Wart
You don’t always need to see a doctor when you have a wart, considering how many over the counter therapies are available. But there are times when it may be appropriate.
Consider visiting a doctor if you have any of the following with a wart:
- Out of control growth.
Preparing For An Appointment
There are steps to take before you see a doctor. First, do your research and find a physician that will meet your needs. Next, think about payment.
Doctors cost money. If you have health insurance, look at ones inside your network to get the lowest cost possible. Check and see if you need a pre-approval or referral. Investigate what kind of co-pay or deductible you’ll have and what payment methods the doctor will take.
Also, you’ll need to know what kind of information to come to the doctor with about your wart, such as:
- The location of your wart.
- When you first noticed it.
- What kinds of treatments you’ve tried already, if any.
- Your health history, including current medications and if you’re pregnant.
Sometimes a wart can’t be removed all at once, but has to be done in several different steps, or stages. More details on stages of wart removal can be found here.
Who to see for your wart removal
Not all doctors are alike, and some medical professionals you visit for a wart may not even be an actual physician.
- Nurse Practitioners: A nurse practitioner is someone who completes nursing school plus another two years in a separate specialized training program. They have the freedom to see patients and write out prescriptions just like a doctor does, but work under a doctor’s supervision. You’ll find a nurse practitioner in many different types of specialties.
- Physician’s Assistant: These men and women have gone through a special two-year program after receiving a Bachelor’s degree and the required prerequisites. They work in almost every specialty and can see patients on their own and write prescriptions, even performing various medical procedures. Like a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant works under a doctor’s supervision.
Although both nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants work under doctor supervision, they are still highly skilled and competent when it comes to patient care. Through classroom and clinical training, these medical professionals can be a very good option when it comes to care, and carry the benefit of a lower cost compared to an actual physician.
- Family practice doctor: These physicians see people of all ages for general worries and issues, and perform basic physicals. Most deal with basic warts, and some with more complicated ones. They may refer you to a specialist for more delicate wart removal if needed.
- Internist: An internist is very similar to a family practice doctor. One major difference is that they only see adults and not children. They also tend to focus a little more on specialties within their practice. This may be beneficial, as you’ll want a doctor who has experience with dermatological issues like warts. But, it may be a little harder to get to an internist, as they like to focus on patients already admitted to a hospital rather than outpatient office visits.
- Dermatologist: These doctors are ideal for skin issues like warts. After medical school, someone who wants to be a dermatologist completes a training program called a residency. In a dermatology residency, they’ll learn all about the skin and everything associated with it, including warts, making them absolute experts. One benefit is that they perform every procedure out there for warts and are highly skilled at it. But make sure you realize that since these doctors are specialists, dermatologist wart removal will cost more than family practice or a physician’s assistant.
- Pediatrician: For children, a pediatrician can be a good option. These doctors focus only on children from birth through age 17, and tend to see warts frequently. If the wart is a simple fix, they can most likely freeze it off at the office. For a more complicated or stubborn case, they’ll usually refer out to a specialist.
- Podiatrist: A podiatrist is a doctor who has specialized in medicine for the feet. If you’ve got a wart on your foot, they can be a good option. Plantar warts are very stubborn and can be hard to get rid of, and podiatrists will have the specialized knowledge of how to take care of them, along with a common wart you may have somewhere on your foot as well.
A benefit of laser therapy is its ability to get the wart out of your skin without any blood involved. Although there may be some discomfort afterward, laser therapy is, for the most part, a mild procedure. For more information on laser wart removal, click here.
So when you get a wart and don’t know who to see, do your research. Look into your options and what kinds of doctors are available to you, and get the treatment that won’t just fit your personal needs, but that will kill your wart for good.