For managing skin infections such as warts, Toronto Dermatology Centre is one of the best treatment centres in Canada. Our staff of outstanding Toronto dermatologists offer both a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis of your skin, and also discuss all the treatment options including: prescription creams and acids, liquid nitrogen (by canister which is much more powerful than the Q-tip application), electrosurgery and bleomycin for your warts. Toronto Dermatology Centre physicians are experts in the management of warts, in helping you understand them, and finding the right treatment plan for you. The best expert to manage your warts is a dermatologist, so make sure you’re receiving the best care possible. Note that plantar wart (warts on bottom of foot) and genital wart treatments are covered by OHIP (free) in Ontario.
What Are Warts?
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by a viral infection in the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are usually skin-colored and feel rough to the touch, but they can be dark, flat and smooth. The appearance of a wart depends on where it is growing.
How Many Kinds of Warts are There?
Common warts – usually grow on the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands. They are more common where skin has been broken, for example where fingernails are bitten or hangnails picked.
Foot warts – are usually on the soles (plantar area) of the feet and are called plantar warts. When plantar warts grow in clusters they are known as mosaic warts. Most plantar warts do not stick up above the surface like common warts because the pressure of walking flattens them and pushes them back into the skin. Like common warts, these warts may have black dots. These are particularly stubborn to treat as they tend to go very deep into the foot.
Flat warts – are smaller and smoother than other warts. They tend to grow in large numbers. They can occur anywhere, but in children they are most common on the face, and sometimes on the back of the hands. In adults they are often found in the beard area in men and on the legs in women. Irritation from shaving probably accounts for this.
How Do You Get Warts?
Warts are a virus, and they are passed from person to person, sometimes indirectly. The time from the first contact to the time the warts have grown large enough to be seen is often several months. The risk of catching hand, foot, or flat warts from another person is small.
Why Do Some People Get Warts and Others Don’t?
Some people get warts depending on how often they are exposed to the virus. Wart viruses occur more easily if the skin has been damaged in some way, which explains the high frequency of warts in children who bite their nails. Some people are just more likely to catch the wart virus than are others, just as some people catch colds very easily. Patients with a weakened immune system also are more prone to a wart virus infection.
How to treat warts?
Do Warts Need to be Treated?
In children, warts can disappear without treatment over a period of several months to years. However, warts that are bothersome, painful, or rapidly multiplying should be treated. Warts in adults often do not disappear as easily or as quickly.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Warts?
Dermatologists are trained to use a variety of treatments, depending on the age of the patient and the type of wart. Common warts – in young children can be treated at home by their parents on a daily basis by applying salicylic acid gel, solution or plaster (eg. Soluver plus). There is usually little discomfort but it can take many weeks of treatment to obtain favorable results. Treatment should be stopped at least temporarily if the wart becomes sore. Warts may also be treated by “painting” with cantharidin in the dermatologist’s office. Cantharidin causes a blister to form under the wart. Your dermatologist can also prescribe strong prescription topical therapies that are usually more effective than over-the-counter products.
For adults and older children liquid nitrogen cryotherapy (freezing) is generally preferred. This treatment is somewhat painful and rarely results in scarring. However, repeat treatments every 2-3 weeks is recommended.
Foot warts – are difficult to treat because the bulk of the wart lies below the skin surface. Treatments include the use of salicylic acid plasters, applying other chemicals to the wart (eg. Cantharidin, 5-FU/Efudex®), or injecting bleomycin.
Flat warts – are often too numerous to treat with methods mentioned above. As a result, “peeling” methods using daily applications of tretinoin, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid are often recommended. For some adults, periodic office treatments for electrosurgery or liquid nitrogen are required.
What About The Use of Hypnosis or “Folk” Remedies?
Many people, patients and doctors alike, believe folk remedies and hypnosis are effective. Since warts, especially in children, may disappear without treatment, it’s hard to know whether it was a folk remedy or just the passage of time that led to the cure. Since warts are generally harmless, there may be times when these treatments are appropriate. Medical treatments can always be used if necessary.
What About the Problem of Recurrent Warts?
Sometimes it seems as if new warts appear as fast as old ones go away. This may happen because the old warts have shed virus into the surrounding skin before they were treated. In reality new “baby” warts are growing up around the original “mother” warts. The best way to limit this is to treat new warts as quickly as they develop so they have little time to shed virus into nearby skin. A check by your dermatologist can help assure the treated wart has resolved completely.
*Result may vary from person to person.
For the assessment and removal of your warts, trust the true skin experts – dermatologists. Our Toronto dermatologists are happy to assess your warts and provide education and counselling, as well as a variety of terrific treatment options that are not available at most clinics. Wart treatment in Toronto is covered in most cases by OHIP (free). Wart removal options are plentiful, so book your consultation today.
Here is a selection of media articles quoting our renowned dermatologists Dr. Benjamin Barankin and Dr. Anatoli Freiman as they pertain to warts. Toronto Dermatology Centre is proud to be among the largest treatment centres for warts in Canada.
Toronto Dermatology Centre is located in Toronto, Ontario, and serves men and women in North York, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, York, Aurora, Thornhill, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Scarborough, Pickering, Peterborough, Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Hamilton, Oshawa, Barrie, downtown, midtown, uptown and all of Greater Toronto (GTA).