Warts: Care Instructions

Overview

A wart is a harmless skin growth caused by a virus. The virus makes the top layer of skin grow quickly, causing a wart. Warts usually go away on their own in months or years. There are several types of warts. Common warts appear most often on the hands, but they may be anywhere on the body.

Warts spread easily. You can reinfect yourself by touching the wart and then touching another part of your body. You can infect others by sharing towels, razors, or other personal items.

Most warts don't need treatment. But if warts cause pain or spread, your doctor may recommend that you use an over-the-counter treatment. Or your doctor may prescribe a stronger medicine to put on warts or may inject them with medicine. The doctor also can remove warts through surgery or by freezing them.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Use salicylic acid or duct tape as your doctor directs. You put the medicine or the tape on a wart for several days and then file down the dead skin on the wart. You use the salicylic acid treatment for 2 to 3 months or the tape for 1 to 2 months.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicine to put on warts, use it exactly as directed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

To avoid spreading warts

  • Keep warts covered with a bandage or athletic tape.
  • Don't bite your nails or cuticles. This may spread warts from one finger to another.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from a wart.
    • Pus draining from a wart.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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