Warts are caused by viral infections of the skin. These viruses are explained on www.skincareguide.com/glossary/w/warts.html.
In some cases warts are just a nuisance, but warts can be unsightly and can interfere with work when they affect the hands or feet. Certain occupations - notably butchers - tend to develop warts on the hands which are thought to be related to their work. Warts on the hands can be a problem for those who work closely with the public, for example servers, nurses, doctors and dentists. Warts on the feet can hobble letter carriers, and interfere with sports like golf and hockey.
Until recently, the only treatment for warts was to burn the warts off, either with caustic chemicals or with high frequency electric current. Neither treatment was very reliable, and both treatments were quite unpleasant. Treatments by type of wart is explained on www.skincareguide.com/conditions/warts/wart_treatment_by_type.html.
Sometimes warts go away without any treatment. When this happens, it is thought to result from activation of the immune system, causing recognition and destruction of the warts. Over the past couple of years, researchers in the United States have shown that injections of Candida antigen (derived from a yeast) can often stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack warts which have been injected, and sometimes even other warts which were not injected. Because the injections are done using very fine needles, and there is no destruction of tissue, there is essentially no discomfort or cosmetic disability. In some cases, the warts need to be injected several times, two to four weeks apart. A cream called imiquimod (Aldara®) which is used mainly for genital warts, can occasionally be effective when applied to other kinds of warts. It works by boosting the skin's immune system which attacks the virus.
Within the past year, a highly effective vaccine against the wart virus which is associated with carcinoma of the cervix has been developed, and it is hoped that this will be commercially available soon. Perhaps some day we will have protective vaccines (and perhaps even therapeutic vaccines) against the viruses which cause warts on the hands and feet.
Dr. Kevin Smith is a dermatologist in Niagara Falls, Ontario with a particular interest in protecting the skin and in correcting skin problems resulting from aging, rosacea and sun damage. He is an expert in the use of Botox®, fillers, lasers and intense pulsed light to maintain and enhance the appearance of the skin, and have lectured on those subjects across North America, and in Europe, Asia and Mexico. Read more at www.smithlaser.com