What causes warts?

Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus. The virus grows in the skin.

How did I get warts?

The wart virus can spread from person to person. It is more likely to infect your skin if you have a cut or open sore.

Some people can come in contact with warts and never get infected, while other people get the virus quite easily. We do not know why this happens. Children might get warts more easily because their immune systems have not developed resistance to the virus.

Will warts go away on their own?

Some warts will go away without treatment. This is more common in children. Other warts will appear but not change for years. Still others will spread quickly. A dermatologist cannot tell what your warts will do.

What treatments are available?

The available treatments do not directly kill the warts; they kill the surrounding skin. The goal is to kill the skin that has the wart virus in it.

Different ways of getting rid of the warts include freezing, burning, cutting, lasers and using topical medications. A dermatologist can help you decided the best treatment for you.

Do over-the-counter medications work?

In many cases, over-the-counter medications do work. Stubborn warts might require treatment by a dermatologist. Often a combination of over-the-counter treatments and dermatologist office procedures leads to faster resolution of the wart.

Can a wart come back?

Because the wart virus is so small, it cannot be seen with the eye. It might be in other parts of the nearby skin. You might get new warts while the ones you already have are being treated.

No treatment works 100 percent. Even though the wart looks like it is gone, it might return several weeks or months later.

It is important to follow the dermatologist’s directions to try to prevent the warts from coming back.

Bill Stephens, PA-C, sees patients at both May River Dermatology locations, in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island.