Just when you thought you’ve avoided them, you find one – a wart. They’re a nuisance and they’re ugly and just plain annoying in general. So what do you do? How do you handle it? Fortunately, there’s plenty of information available on the subject, as well as many options for treatment. Warts don’t just grow on a few areas of the body like the hands and feet, they can be pretty much anywhere, including the genitals and even the inside of your mouth. One common place you might find them is the elbow.
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What Do Elbow Warts Look Like?
The common wart is the most likely one you’ll find on the elbow. Other wart types include filiform, which is characterized by long fingerlike projections coming up from it, and flat warts which are long and flesh-colored.
As for the common wart, you can recognize it by certain features:
- Appearance: A common wart has well-defined borders, meaning that it’s edges are very plain to see. It’s usually rounded and it’s surface smooth. Sometimes, it may have a surface a little more rough or bumpy.
- Color: The color of a common warts varies from flesh-colored, to red or pink, to brown.
- Location: Common warts usually occur in areas like hands, arms and elbows, and sometimes on the face. Warts on the bottom of your feet are called plantar warts, while filiform warts are usually found just on the face.
Warts aren’t just something that adults suffer from. Children of all ages are susceptible to the growths as well. Find more details about warts on kids here.
The Culprit Behind Warts
There is one thing responsible for all warts on the human body: HPV, or human papilloma virus. It needs a human host to survive, yet can stay active and alive for periods of time outside of a body, mostly in places that are moist and warm like pool decks, showers, steam rooms, and bathrooms. The more people there are that use these places, the more dramatically the likelihood is that you’ll find HPV there.
There are many strains of HPV, each one causing different types of warts. For example, while one strain causes warts to show up on the genitals, another strain will give you plantar warts on your feet.
The way in which HPV is transferred to your elbow isn’t complicated. All you need is a tiny break in the skin and the virus can sneak inside. So if your elbow touches something with HPV on it, you can end up with a wart there. Because elbows get a lot of wear and tear, they have a higher than normal chance of having breaks in the skin.
Once HPV is in your elbow, it waits until deciding to replicate, make skin cells grow quickly and out of control until producing a wart.
When warts are on your elbow, you need to be careful with them. Elbows tend to be a place that gets scratched and scraped easily, and if you scrape the wart apart, it can spread the viral particles across the skin and into other tiny breaks, causing new warts in those areas.
Although warts can grow in places like your mouth, genitals, and underneath fingernails, most warts grow right into the skin. For more information on skin warts, go here.
Treatments And Procedures
There’s a lot you can do for a wart on your elbow. And not just in a doctor’s office – there’s much you can do just from home!
The most common ingredient used in home wart treatment is salicylic acid. This liquid is derived from the bark of the willow tree and has corrosive properties that kill living tissue. There are also home remedies you can do on your elbow that use products available straight from your kitchen or bathroom.
Of course, if you want to get rid of that elbow wart even more quickly, there are ways that a doctor can speed things along. Of course, keep in mind the pros and cons of going to physician. With a doctor there are higher costs that include doctor’s fees, facility fees, and a co-pay or deductible. The upside to medical procedures is that the wart will be gone much faster than methods you do at home, and the likelihood that healthy tissue is accidentally destroyed is dramatically lowered.
Procedures you can have done by a medical professional include:
- Surgical excision: This is when a medical professional cuts the wart itself directly out of the skin. Using a sharp tool of some kind, they will cut the wart out not just above the skin but underneath it to where the base of the wart lies. If wart cells are left behind, it will just grow back, so your doctor will inspect the site to make sure all traces of the wart are gone. A simple bandage will be placed over it for protection. Healing time is usually around a couple of weeks. For more information click here.
- Cryotherapy: Using extreme cold, cryotherapy destroys wart tissue very quickly. The most common ingredient that doctor’s use is liquid nitrogen. This liquid has a very low boiling point and is so cold that any living tissue it touches freezes immediately and starts to die. Your doctor will spray the liquid nitrogen directly onto the elbow wart in a continuous stream, making sure the cold reaches deep into the wart enough to kill the entire thing. A blister may form over the site and must not be picked at or scratched, as viral particles are housed in the fluid inside. Some elbow warts can be killed in one treatment, while others may require more than one. Read more here.
- Laser therapy: This method uses heat to kill the wart. A special tool emits a super condensed laser that your doctor will then aim directly at the wart on your elbow. The wart cells will be destroyed by the heat and burn apart. One advantage to this is that there’s no blood involved. Please see detailed descriptions here.
- Electrocautery: Also using heat to kill wart cells, electrocautery uses electricity to heat up the wart to the point of destruction. A hand-held tool runs an electric current into its tip, and when pressed onto the wart, delivers the charge into the tissue. There may be a little smoke and a burning smell, which is perfectly normal. Further details can be found here.
Getting treatment you can do yourself at home is as easy as going to the drugstore.
Some excellent products you can find pretty much anywhere medications are sold include:
- Compound W Wart Remover, Fast Acting Maximum Strength Gel: This product uses salicylic acid to kill the wart, but not as a liquid. Instead, the acid is put into the form of a gel, which is thicker and less likely to drip. To find out more details, go here.
- Dr. Scholl’s Clear Away Wart Removal Strips: Instead of having to worry about applying liquid or gel to your wart, you can just stick on a band aid. Each bandage is infused with salicylic acid and holds firm against the wart to deliver a constant stream of the ingredient onto the wart tissue. Take the bandage off at the end of the day and stick on another, repeating until the wart falls off. For more info about a wart bandaids check out this article.
- Compound W Freeze Off Wart Remover: Using extreme cold just like liquid nitrogen, this at-home kit freezes the wart until the entire thing is dead. A freezing agent, such as butane, is held in a small canister at a very low temperature. Some kits use a cotton swab at the end of a wand that saturates with the freezing agent. Some kits will spray the agent right onto the wart. You’ll touch the freezing liquid to the wart for the specified time, then cover in a light bandage. There are times more than one treatment is necessary. Read more here.
Some people may confuse warts with molluscum contagiosum, which are raised bumps with a dimple in the center and sometimes known as “water warts”. For more information on water warts, go here.
Sometimes it may take more than one treatment to kill a wart completely. The wart doesn’t just sit at the skin’s surface, it sits well underneath the surface. For example, topical treatments such a salicylic acid need to eat away enough layers to cause deep enough damage. Liquid nitrogen must be applied for a long enough time for the cold to be able to reach all the way to the bottom of the wart. If the base of the wart doesn’t receive enough damage, it won’t die and will require another treatment.
The Best Way to Get Rid of An Elbow Wart
When the time comes to decide what to do about a wart on your elbow, go through your options. If you want a way to get rid of it without having to go to a doctor, you might want to try salicylic acid. To get an instant result, go with surgical excision. Really, the best way to get rid of a wart depends on your money, time, and what you’re willing to go through.
Elbow warts don’t have to be a permanent nuisance. Go through your options, decide on treatment, and get rid of that thing! You’ll be on your way to smooth, clear skin in no time.
You can find further details of Types of warts here.