Warts are the result of a virus known as the human papillomavirus (HPV), and they can easily be spread from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact or by sharing items such as towels or clothes with the infected individual. While warts of the hands may be unsightly or embarrassing, it’s important to note that these growths are benign and harmless. Here’s what you should know about treating warts, including how a dermatologist will treat this common skin problem.
How do I know that it’s a wart?
If you’ve never had a wart before then you may not know what this little growth is at first. Warts are raised, skin-colored bumps that may be rough to the touch and grainy in appearance. If you look closely at the bump you may notice little black dots. These are small blood vessels. Since warts can be confused for cysts and other lesions, it may be a good idea to see a dermatologist first before you begin treatment.
How are warts treated?
Some people simply wait until their body fights the infection and the wart eventually goes away, but this can take months or even years. People who are dealing with warts in more sensitive and visible places such as their hands are more likely to want to get rid of the wart a lot sooner. Many healthy individuals turn to over-the-counter remedies first. There are salicylic acid solutions that you can apply directly to the wart and will need to continue to reapply regularly. This solution will shed layers of the wart until gone.
While no study tests the effectiveness of duct tape for removing warts, it not an unsafe practice or option (and if it works for you, great!). If you’ve given it a valiant effort to treat the wart on your own but it just doesn’t seem to respond to over-the-counter treatment options, or it returns, then it’s time to see your dermatologist. A dermatologist offers a variety of ways to remove a wart, including,
- Cryotherapy: Freezing the wart off is a common method for removing warts
- Cantharidin: A chemical is applied to the wart, which causes it to blister and fall off
- Surgical excision: If the bumps do not respond to other treatment options or are in hard-to-treat areas, this may be the ideal method for removal
We understand that warts can develop in rather awkward and sometimes uncomfortable places like the hands. If this happens to you and you don’t want to wait until your body clears the infection to get rid of your wart, then a dermatologist can provide you with the treatment you need to remove the wart more quickly.
Remember Your ABCDEs
This easy-to-remember acronym will help you spot those signs of skin cancer whenever you examine moles yourself. This is what it stands for,
- A is for asymmetry: A healthy mole will be perfectly circular and symmetrical. If you find that half of the mole is shaped differently from the other half, this could be a sign of pre-cancerous growth.
- B is for a border: A healthy mole will have a clearly defined border. If the mole has a jagged or an even or poorly defined border, it’s time to visit your dermatologist.
- C is for color: A healthy mole will remain a singular color throughout your life. If the mole changes color or develops multiple colors this could be a sign of skin cancer.
- D is for diameter: A healthy mole is typically smaller than a pencil eraser (under 5mm). Moles over 5mm, or larger than a pencil eraser, may be cause for concern. Large moles warrant seeing a dermatologist.
- E is for evolving: A healthy mole will remain the same over the course of your lifetime. So, if you notice it changing at all then it’s worth having a dermatologist look at it.
Along with remembering your ABCDEs, it’s also a good idea to look for,
- New moles: Just because you develop a new mole doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s cancerous; however, if you start noticing any new moles developing past the age of 20 (particularly on the face, neck, shoulder, or other sun-exposed areas), this warrants an evaluation with a skincare professional.
- Troublesome moles: Do you have a mole that bleeds, itches, crusts over, or is painful or tender? If so, the mole should be checked out.
- Sores in the mouth and nose (mucous membrane sores)
- Hair loss, sometimes caused by discoid lesions
- Purple spots (due to broken blood vessels) on the legs
Cold sores are highly contagious, so it is possible to get a cold sore from,
- Kissing an infected person
- Sharing utensils and drinking from the same glass as an infected person
- Oral sex
Before a blister even develops, you may notice burning, tingling, pain, or itching around the affected area of the lip. If this is your first time dealing with a cold sore, it is common for the first outbreak to be the worst. In this case, you may develop a fever, body aches, or other flu-like symptoms.
When it comes to treating a cold sore, you can find simple over-the-counter creams that help to ease symptoms. If you deal with severe cold sore outbreaks you may wish to talk with your dermatologist about a prescription antiviral medication, that can help to reduce the length of your outbreak and reduce symptom severity.
Cold sores and canker sores can often be mistaken for each other, but they are not the same. First, cold sores usually develop on the lips while canker sore cause painful sores to develop in the mouth. Secondly, cold sores are due to a virus while we still don’t know exactly what causes canker sores.
How is molluscum contagiosum contracted?
You may be wondering how your child contracted this poxvirus. There are several ways to transmit this viral infection: skin-to-skin contact, sharing items such as towels or clothes, sexual transmission (in adults), and scratching your own lesions (this can lead to further spreading of the papules).
It can take anywhere from two weeks to six months to develop symptoms after exposure. Once a child or person has molluscum contagiosum they typically aren’t infected again in the future.
How is this condition diagnosed?
If you notice any bumps on your child that persist for days, you must consult your dermatologist to find out what’s going on. A simple dermatoscopy (a painless, non-invasive procedure that allows your dermatologist to examine a skin lesion or growth) can determine whether the papule is due to molluscum contagiosum. If MC is not suspected, your dermatologist may biopsy the bump for further evaluation.
How is molluscum contagiosum treated?
Since this is the result of a viral infection, antibiotics will not be an effective treatment option. In fact, the body simply needs time to fight the virus. Your dermatologist may just tell you to wait until the infection runs its course and clears up on its own.
If the papules are widespread and affecting your teen’s appearance and self-esteem, then you may wish to talk with a dermatologist about ways to get rid of the spots. Cryotherapy or certain creams may be recommended to treat and get rid of these spots.
If you are living with others, it’s important to avoid sharing any clothing or towels with the infected child or person. Make sure that your child does not scratch the bumps, which can lead to further spreading of the infection.
If your child is dealing with a rash, raised bumps, or any skin problems and you’re not sure what’s going on, it’s best to talk with a qualified dermatologist who can easily diagnose the issue and provide you with effective solutions for how to treat it.
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