Warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), are potentially contagious infections that can grow on virtually any part of your body. Some people have a stronger natural resistance to warts, and, in some cases, warts will disappear on their own over a period of months or years. However, when warts cause pain, embarrassment, or agitation, there are a variety of treatment options available. Warts can be very sensitive and ache or even bleed if irritated. In such cases, especially when they grow on areas where they are aggravated by clothing or jewelry, many people choose to have them removed. Warts that grow in highly visible areas of the body, such as the face, are also often removed because they are considered unattractive. Others have warts taken off simply because there is the chance that they could spread to other parts of the body or to other people.
Warts can be removed in a variety of ways. For warts on the hands or feet, Compound W (which has salicylic acid) or a chemical treatment may be recommended. Your doctor can also freeze the wart with liquid nitrogen or remove the wart with a laser. It is important to keep in mind that skin warts (such as those found on your hands or feet) are treated very differently than warts on the genitals. DO NOT use over-the-counter wart-removal medication for genital warts, because certain chemicals found in them can harm your genital area. For genital warts, chemical treatments, laser surgery or electro-surgical excisions may be recommended.
In most cases, treating warts while they are small and have not had a chance to spread leads to more effective, permanent results. If you are considering wart removal, your doctor should discuss your options with you so that you can achieve your goal safely and effectively.