What Causes Warts


Warts are caused by a papilloma virus.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Rid of Warts?

There is absolutely no way to get rid of warts until the patient’s immune system is able to recognize the viral infection and fight it, like any other viral infection. The papilloma virus that causes warts is very sneaky and often evades detection by the immune system. As a physician, Dr. Crutchfield's goal is to irritate the area (burn, freeze, irritate, laser, sensitize, etc.) the area so the viral proteins are exposed and more easily detected by the patient’s immune system. Sometimes it takes 1 treatment, sometimes it takes multiple treatments for the patient’s immune system to “kick-in” recognize the wart and get rid of the wart. That is why it is so hard to treat warts.

Effective Treatments For Warts

Warts are a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. The virus responsible for causing warts is the human papilloma virus. Warts are transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact or through the contact of objects that have been touched by warts and now carry the virus on their surface(known as fomites). A good example of a 'fomite' is a shower room floor, commonly associated with the transmission of warts on the bottom of the feet. Warts located on the bottom of the feet are known as 'plantar' warts, but warts can occur anywhere.

The successful treatment of warts can be very difficult.

Here is a little known fact about wart treatments: The key to successfully treating warts is to irritate the warts to the point where the proteins associated with the infecting virus are exposed to the patients own immune system. The patient's immune system recognizes the wart as an infection, and attacks the wart. Everyone's immune system responds differently, and, as a result, the number of treatments required to get rid of warts can vary widely. Some warts can go away in 1 treatment and others may take 15 or more treatments. The average number of treatments in our office is about 4-6, spaced out about every 2 weeks. About 5% of warts don't respond to our therapies. The treatment of warts is really a partnership between the doctor and patient's immune system!

At Crutchfield Dermatology we use many ways to "irritate" and partially destroy the warts including freezing, topical medicines applied at the office, medicines to be used at home between office visits, and laser treatments. Every case is unique, and we will design a treatment program that we believe is most appropriate for you.

For additional helpful information on this topic Dr. Crutchfield recommends these helpful links:
American Academy of Dermatology: Warts

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Crutchfield Dermatology

1185 Town Centre Drive, Suite 101
Eagan, MN 55123 USA

Phone: (651) 209-3600 Fax: (651) 209-3601

Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-5pm

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