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Wart Removal Via Cryotherapy, Laser, Electrodesiccation and Curettage

What are warts?

Warts are small skin growths that are caused by a viral infection call the Human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 known types of HPV, a virus that infects the top layer of skin. Small and usually painless, warts tend to be more
embarrassing than dangerous. Warts are usually rough and skin-colored depending on the HPV strain and the part of the body affected. However, they can be flat, dark and smooth. They are not usually cancerous. HPV causes the top layer of skin to grow at a rapid pace. The result is a wart. Typically these warts will go away on their own in a few months or a few years.

What causes warts? Can warts be prevented?

Warts are caused by a virus known as the human papillomavirus, commonly referred to as HPV. The virus can be spread throughout the body as well as from person to person. Some warts are more contagious than others, but there are ways to help stop the spread of warts.

How do I know if I have a wart or something else?

In some cases, a visual examination is not enough to determine whether a growth is a wart or a different skin condition. In cases like these, a doctor may complete a diagnostic test before treatment can begin.

Scrape Test

During a scrape test, the top layer of the wart is scraped off to check for clotted blood vessels that appear as dark, pinpoint dots. This signifies that the growth is a wart.

Shave Biopsy

For larger growths, scrape tests are often inconclusive. In these cases, a shave biopsy is recommended. After topical anesthesia is applied, a scalpel is held parallel to the growth and then moved in a straight motion to remove a small section of tissue. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing.

What type of warts do I have?

Common Warts

Flat Warts

Filiform Warts

Plantar Warts

Periungual Warts

Genital Warts

How are warts spread?

Warts are passed through contact from one person to another and even sometimes indirectly. The time from first contact to the time the warts have grown large enough to be seen is often several months. The risk of being infected with the different types of warts is small. Genital warts tend to be more contagious.

What treatments are available for warts at Skin And Cancer Institute?

There is no cure for the human papillomavirus that causes warts, but there are many treatments available to lessen or even eliminate the appearance of warts. Even with intervention, warts often recur and spread. The goals of treatment are to destroy warts and stimulate an immune system response to fight the virus. Your doctor may suggest one or a combination of the following approaches based on the location of your warts, your symptoms, and your preferences.

Topical Medication

Your doctor may prescribe a topical medication in the form of cream, gel, or ointment. Most topical medications are applied daily and must be left untouched while they soak into the wart. This method is usually attempted first on genital warts, as it is the least invasive for the sensitive treatment area.

Sometimes Imiquimod can be prescribed to boost the body’s natural immune system to fight off genital warts. The prescribing physician may have additional information about avoiding skin irritation.


When applied to warts, cantharidin causes a blister to form under the growth. Over 7-10 days, the wart will slowly separate from underlying tissue. When the tissue is fully separated, return to the office and the dermatologist will clip away the dead wart.

Electrodesiccation and Curettage

Electrodesiccation is a good treatment for common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. An electrodesiccation tool will be used to burn the surface of the wart, and then a curette is used to scrap off the dead tissue.


An electrical current is used to burn warts from the skin


For common warts in adults and older children, cryotherapy is the most common treatment. Liquid nitrogen will be applied with a cryogun to the center of the wart, forming an ice ball in the center until the entire growth is frozen. The treated lesion will gradually heal, and any dead skin and scabs will naturally detach during the healing process.

Surgical excision

In some cases, it may be best to completely remove the wart with a scalpel. This procedure is done in the office with the use of local anesthesia. Stitches are usually required to close the wound.

Laser Treatment

For warts that have not responded to other therapies, laser treatment may be an option. Before the procedure, your specialist may numb the wart with an anesthetic injection.

An intense beam of light sheers the wart from the skin. This is state of the art in the eradication of genital warts.

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is the best treatment for warts that appear in clusters, though it is not a treatment option for genital warts.

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