FAMILY HEALTH CARE +

Your complete online medical source

Navigate by theme:

Web familyhealthhandbook.com

Return to index

Skin Problems

Warts

Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Warts are skin growths that are caused by a virus. They can appear anywhere on the body. Warts are not dangerous, but they can be bothersome.

Little is known about warts. Most types are only slightly contagious. They can spread to other areas on the same person but rarely to other people. Genital and anal warts are an exception; they are easily transmitted through sexual contact and may increase a woman's risk for cervical cancer. See Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact. The warts generally look like small, fleshy bumps or flat, white patches on the lips around the vagina (labia), inside the vagina, on the penis or scrotum, or around the anus. A person infected with HPV may never develop genital warts, or the warts may be too small to be seen. Certain types of HPV seem to increase the risk of cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear can occasionally detect the virus..

Plantar warts appear on the soles of the feet. Most of the wart lies under the skin surface and may make you feel like you are walking on a pebble.

Because warts seem to come and go for little reason, it's possible that they are sensitive to slight changes in the immune system. Although there is no scientific explanation for why it works, in some cases you can "think" warts away.

When necessary, your doctor can remove warts. Unfortunately, they often come back.

Home Treatment

Top of Page


  • Warts appear and disappear spontaneously. They can last a week, a month, or even years. To get rid of your warts, it helps to believe in the treatment. If something works for you, stick with it.

  • Try the least expensive method of treating warts first. You may save a trip to your doctor.

  • If the wart bleeds a little, cover it with a bandage and apply light pressure to stop the bleeding.

  • If the wart is in the way, rub it with a pumice stone or a file or apply a nonprescription product containing salicylic acid. (If you have diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, do not irritate the wart or use salicylic acid on it without first discussing these treatments with a health professional.)

  • If treatment with salicylic acid causes the area to become tender, taking a 2- to 3-day break from treatment may help relieve pain.

  • If you use a pumice stone or file, both the debris from the wart and the area of the pumice stone or file that touched the wart can be infectious. Don't use these items for any other purpose or you may spread the wart-causing virus. Wash your hands with soap after you touch the debris from the wart or the pumice stone or file.

  • For plantar warts, apply a doughnut-shaped pad to cushion the wart and relieve pain. Before you go to bed, apply salicylic acid to the wart, and cover the wart with a bandage (or wear a sock). Wash the medication off in the morning.

  • Don't cut or burn off a wart.

    Hair Loss

    Many people lose hair as they grow older. Such hair loss is natural and is largely the result of heredity. Balding poses no health risks other than sunburn, which you can prevent by wearing a hat and using sunscreen when outdoors. While men tend to lose hair from the hairline and crown of the head, women's hair becomes thinner all over.

    If you are thinking about drug (such as minoxidil) or surgical treatment for baldness, make sure you understand the risks of treatment, how many treatments you will need, and how long the results will last.

    Bald spots are not the same as baldness. Wearing tight braids or habitually tugging or twisting your hair may cause bald spots. Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes scaly bald spots. See Ringworm. A condition called alopecia areata causes patchy hair loss that may require treatment with steroid medications.

    Thinning hair can signal problems such as thyroid disease or lupus. Emotional or physical stress can cause short-term hair loss, as can changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause.

    If hair loss is sudden, or if it develops after you start taking a new medication, call your doctor.

When to Call a Health Professional

Top of Page


  • If a wart looks infected after being irritated or knocked off.

  • If a plantar wart is painful when you walk, and foam pads do not help.

  • If you have warts in the anal or genital area See Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact. The warts generally look like small, fleshy bumps or flat, white patches on the lips around the vagina (labia), inside the vagina, on the penis or scrotum, or around the anus. A person infected with HPV may never develop genital warts, or the warts may be too small to be seen. Certain types of HPV seem to increase the risk of cervical cancer in women. A Pap smear can occasionally detect the virus..

  • If a wart develops on your face and is a cosmetic concern.

If a wart causes continual discomfort, or if warts are numerous enough to be a problem, they may need to be surgically removed. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of surgery to remove warts.

 

Top of Page