Warts are viral infections caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Different strains of the HPV virus are associated with various types of warts. Most of the HPV virus strains are harmless. They are easily eliminated from the body by the immune system. Only few strains of HPV virus are capable of overpowering the immune system, causing serious illnesses of the cervix.
Avoiding contact with a person infected with HPV virus can protect you from warts. The virus also spreads from one part of the body to another. Weakening of the immune system further increases the risk of developing warts.
In people with healthy immune system, harmless warts usually clear naturally. It may take a few months, and sometimes, even years to get rid of the HPV virus from the body. Stubborn warts that do not heal naturally require treatment with topical medicines. Medications for strengthening the immune system may be needed to treat severe warts.
Best Medications To Treat Warts
Salicylic acid preparations are usually available over-the-counter for treating warts. It works by softening the skin that forms the wart, which is then easily rubbed off with a pumice stone. Moreover, by irritating the wart, salicylic acid stimulates the immune response against the HPV virus that helps to kill the virus, arresting progression of the infection.
Treatment with salicylic acid is extremely effective in treating warts. It is safe and well tolerated. However, it may take several weeks or months to get rid of the warts completely. Damage to the healthy skin around the wart is a common side effect that can be avoided by taking preventive measures to protect the surrounding skin from the salicylic acid preparation.
When treatment with salicylic acid fails to remove the warts, your doctor may prescribe cantharidin. This is a chemical extracted from the green blister beetle. Applying cantharidin over the wart causes the skin that forms the wart to blister. The wart comes off with the blistered skin. Treatment with cantharidin is considered safe. However, you may experience, burning, tingling and itching when the skin blisters.
Tretinoin, a vitamin A derivative or retinoid cream, is often recommended for treating warts. It works by impairing growth of the wart’s skin cell.This topical medicine is available only on prescription. Increased sensitivity to sunlight, dry and irritated skin, change in skin color and swollen or crusted skin are possible side effects of the drug.
Bichloracetic Acid (BCA)
Bichloracetic acid is applied once a week to heal warts on the feet and palm. It works by destroying the proteins in the viral cells. Repeated application may be needed for clearing stubborn warts. Burning, tenderness and swelling of the application site are common side effects of treatment with BCA.
Squaric Acid Dibutylester
When conventional treatment fails to stop recurrent warts, sensitizing the immune system is considered an effective option for preventing growth of the HPV virus. Contact immunotherapy with squaric acid dibutylester (SADBE) is used for treating recurrent warts. Treatment with SADBE is well tolerated. However, it may cause acute contact dermatitis, hypopigmentation and blistering.
Imiquimod is used topically for treating warts. It works by triggering the immune system.It is primarily reserved for treating warts that do not respond to conventional treatments. Itching, burning, hypopigmentation and blistering are possible side effects of the treatment.