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Wart Treatment
Dr. Michelle Burgess, MD - Chicago, IL



Warts are common fleshy bumps on the skin or mucous membrane. They are caused by the human papillomavirus, which has numerous strains. Although they can be unpleasant to look at, these growths are benign (non-cancerous). Dr. Burgess offers treatments that can help get rid of warts, leaving your skin smooth and unmarked.

Common Questions on Warts Treatment

Where do warts come from? What causes warts?

Warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus , or HPV. The virus is highly contagious, easily spread by touch. Warts can be transmitted by touching surfaces such as towels, pool decks, or showers. They can also be transmitted by person to person touch. If contracted, the virus causes cells on the surface of your skin to divide at a faster rate than normal. A wart is a build-up of those infected cells.

Why do warts spread?

Unlike many other viruses, HPV isn’t in your system, but on the surface of your skin. For that reason, it’s easily spread by touch. If a wart is on your finger, for example, the virus can spread to any part of your body touched by that finger. If a wart is picked at, or split, the virus can spread. The virus can also spread to other surfaces, such as a towel or a pool deck, depending on what the wart comes in contact with.

Are warts contagious?

Yes. Warts are highly contagious. The virus that causes them sits on the surface of your skin, making it easily transmitted by touch.

Are warts painful?

Warts aren’t typically painful, but when located on a pressure point (such as the sole of your foot, or your heel) they can start to ache over time. Also, due to their size and shape, they can sometimes get nicked or pinched, which can hurt.

Can warts cause cancer?

Certain strains of genital HPV have been associated with cervical cancer in women, and some strains can lead to anal cancer. However, most strains are not associated with cancer, and warts found elsewhere on the body don’t have the same risks.

How does Dr. Burgess remove warts?

For many patients, Dr. Burgess offers in-office removal of warts, using liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill off the infected cells. These treatments usually require two to four appointments over a month’s time. For patients with warts in sensitive areas, or who might not be able to come back to the office for multiple sessions, Dr. Burgess uses a topical medication that gradually peels away the wart-infected cells. These ointments are available in prescription form, and can be safely administered at home. Either treatment is effective, and Dr. Burgess will talk you through the options and help you decide which is right for you.

Are there treatments other than removal?

Removal is the most effective method of dealing with warts. As long as they’re present, warts are contagious, and can spread to other areas of your body or to other people. Covering warts can sometimes temporarily keep them from spreading, but the best option is always to have them removed and reduce the risk.

What is Dr. Burgess’s approach when it comes to dealing with warts?

Dr. Burgess has been treating warts for more than a decade. She knows what works, and how to safely administer aggressive treatments with high probability of clearing warts. For many patients, she offers removal using liquid nitrogen, which requires two to four treatments spaced out over a month. However, because the liquid nitrogen occasionally causes a sore or blister to appear after the treatment, Dr. Burgess will use a prescription ointment for patients with warts on sensitive areas, or for those who can’t return to the office for multiple visits. The ointment can be safely administered at home, and typically clears warts in two to three months.

Why do warts keep coming back?

Warts are highly contagious, and often made more so if a patient picks at them or tries to clear them on their own. Dr. Burgess works to completely clear the wart-infected cells, meaning they won’t return unless the virus is contracted again. However, there is still a 25% to 30% chance of recurrence when treated in the office. This is because wart-infected cells can sometimes be missed, as some warts have roots, or go down deeper than the surface of the skin, causing the wart to recur at a later date. Dr. Burgess will continue to work with you until all wart-infected cells are cleared.

What can I do to prevent warts?

Unfortunately, the virus that causes warts is highly contagious and spread by touch, so there isn’t a lot that can be done to prevent people from contracting HPV. It’s an extremely common condition. Dr. Burgess advises patients to be careful at nail salons, using only clean or sterilized instruments, and to wear shower shoes or protective shoes at the pool or in gyms. If a wart shows up, you can put a Band-aid over it to keep it to reduce risk of it spreading to other parts of your body, until you can have it removed.

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