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What are warts?

Warts are a common skin infection caused by a virus. They are spread from person to person: however, they are not highly contagious.

How are they treated?

Warts will usually go away without treatment after several years. If you choose to proceed with treatments, you will need multiple regular office visits for at least six months. The most commonly used treatments are described below.
Surgical removal of warts is not recommended as a first treatment because of the high risk of permanent scarring and pain.

Possible Side Effects

There may be blistering, pain, and/or swelling over the area that has been treated. Lightening or darkening of the skin may occur during the healing process and usually resolves on its own. However, darker skinned patients may experience more permanent skin color changes at the wart site. You may take ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain or discomfort.


• Initially the medical assistant will remove the dead, thickened skin if present, so that the treatments are more effective.
• Liquid nitrogen: This is the quickest and easiest treatment for most warts. Liquid nitrogen is very cold and is sprayed directly on the wart. The wart will sting and burn while it is being frozen. Normally, the wart will ache for several minutes after freezing, then will blister and may fill with bloody fluid over the next 24 hours. This response damages the wart and helps the body’s own defenses to destroy it.
• Office treatment with topical cantharone or acids: Topical treatments may also be applied in the clinic to further damage the wart so the body can get rid of the wart quicker.
• Home treatment with salicylic acid:
The doctor also may instruct you to use a topical salicylic acid containing product at home. Prior to applying the medication, soak the wart in warm water for 5 minutes. Remove any loosened tissue with a clean metal nail file that you clean after use. By using the brush applicator supplied, apply twice to affected area allowing the first application to dry before applying the second. Be careful not to apply to surrounding skin. Do this twice daily unless it is too irritating. If you cannot tolerate twice daily application due to irritation then apply only at bedtime. Stop this therapy 3 days prior to your next appointment.

Tips for successful treatment:

1. Avoid instruments for scraping of warts that cannot be completely cleaned because it can cause warts to spread, e.g. pumice stone.
2. Do not use non-medically approved acids to treat your warts. The most effective and predictable acids are mentioned above.
3. Have patience in treating your warts. This is not a life threatening condition and even without treatment, warts tend to go away by themselves. The goal is to cause as little damage to normal skin as possible.

Call Teton Dermatology at 307-734-1800 to schedule an appointment to evaluate your warts and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Call Teton Dermatology at 307-734-1800 to schedule an appointment to evaluate your warts and develop a personalized treatment plan.