This is the second blog in our series What is THAT!?
Do warts come from toads? Are warts contagious? Do over the counter remedies work for warts? Can warts be dangerous? Fryer Dermatology answers your questions about warts.
What does a wart look like? They are mostly skin colored, whitish, white with black spots, bumpy, or may look like something else; there are many ways that they appear. All warts are a result of a virus – the HPV viruses to be specific - but there are different strains of this virus. Most often, warts appear on hands and feet but really can occur anywhere on your body. Warts like the protein layer of your skin which is thicker on your hands and feet, that is why we commonly see them there. While warts seem very simple, they actually are not and present a challenge to treat.
What you see is a growth, but you should think infection, inside and under the growth. Since we don’t have a medicine that kills the virus we have to treat them indirectly, by removing or destroying what we see on the surface. We do this for two reasons: to cut it off and also hoping for an immune response – that your body will do its job and your immune system will attack and kill the virus from the inside. Your body can build up immunity over time. Often more than one treatment or more than one type of treatment is needed. Freezing, burning, cutting, and topical creams that are designed as a homing signal for your immune system to draw white blood cells can be used by themselves or in conjunction with one other. There are over the counter treatments like liquids with salicylic acid which can be effective again on their own or in conjunction with what is done in the office. At times your dermatologist may recommend using an over the counter remedy like that which can dissolve the wart layer by layer and also debulk it which in turn aids in other treatment.
Feet present an additional problem. When a wart is on the bottom or your foot, typical treatments may cause more of a problem than the actual wart. Most of us cannot stay off of our feet and the area of treatment could be uncomfortable or become more irritated then the original wart itself. Many of us have heard the term Plantar Wart and while it sounds like a type of wart it really just means a wart that exists on the bottom of the foot or the Plantar surface. Less aggressive therapies may present the best options and that decision should be made between you and your dermatologist.
We always try to treat within what makes sense for the patient. In and of themselves warts are not generally dangerous. When are warts more concerning? Genital warts present a special case and may lead to additional concerns. Also warts on people with compromised immune systems present a challenge. There are warts that can look like cancer and a skin cancer that looks like a wart but your dermatologist can make that determination.
Warts are contagious – they are after all viruses. But there is a certain amount that has to do with susceptibility and we are not all susceptible to the same things. People with warts do not need to isolate themselves but you can spread them back to yourself if you pick at them or shave over them. So take sensible precautions, such as using shower shoes at the gym, or put a towel down where you step out. Use reasonable precautions but do not be obsessive about it.
The next time you see something on your skin and wonder “what is that” contact our office and make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists or physician assistant. We can not only tell you what it is but also guide you through treatment. Check back to our blog for more editions of “What is That!?”.
Fryer Dermatology wants to help you understand what you may be seeing on your skin, what you have been told by or have read about. Remember, these blogs are not meant for self-diagnosis rather it is for informational purposes. If you see a change on your skin, please contact us so that we can examine the area and give you a proper diagnosis.
This is the first in a series of blogs addressing the question many of you have: What is That? Maybe you noticed some type of growth or patch on your skin and you are wondering what it is. Perhaps at another doctor’s visit they saw something and told you what they thought it was. So while we are in no way encouraging self-diagnosis, or Google diagnosing for that matter, you may wonder what things are and what these terms really mean. While we make every effort to make sure that our patients understand what we see on their skin, there are times when the explanation does not stay with you or you just want more plain speak about what things are. That is the goal of this series.
In this blog we will discuss Skin Tags which while not terribly glamorous, are a very common type of “growth” from your skin. They are rarely dangerous. They are extremely common and are often not something that you can prevent. Many people will have a skin tag at some time in their life time and a dermatologist can help you with this issues.
Skin tags are a normal degenerative change in skin. Simply put, it is an extra piece of skin that comes off the surface and hangs there. Skin tags most commonly occur under your arms, under your bra, neck, in skin folds, or can really be anywhere that you have repeated friction. They are not dangerous and not cancerous. The only medical reason for removal would be if the area is getting infected. Most often we remove skin tags for cosmetic purposes or if it is in an area where it just gets in the way or bothers you. There is really nothing you can do to prevent skin tags. Why do you get skin tags? Genetics play a role, the way you are shaped, and your weight can be the factors in addition to repeated friction in the area.
Removal of skin tags is relatively simple. In general we remove them by cutting them off without or with anesthesia, depending on the number, site and size of those being removed. After removal, the area requires little wound care; possibly just a little local antibiotic ointment. And while they do not grow back, you may get new ones in similar areas because that is where you are prone to get them. As there is no medical reason to get rid of skin tags, insurance does not cover them but removal is very reasonable priced.
So the next time you see something on your skin and wonder “what is that” contact our office and make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists or physician assistant. We can not only tell you what it is but also guide you through treatment. Check back to our blog for more editions of “What is That”.