Many common warts don't require treatment. They usually disappear within two years, though new ones may develop nearby. You may want to treat them for cosmetic purposes, if they're causing discomfort or to prevent their spread. Home treatment is often effective in curing common warts.
If you have stubborn warts and home treatment isn't helping, your doctor may suggest one of the following approaches, based on the location of your wart, the degree of your symptoms and your preferences. Doctors generally start with the least painful, least destructive methods, especially when dealing with young children.
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- Freezing (cryotherapy, or liquid nitrogen therapy). Your doctor may use liquid nitrogen to destroy your wart by freezing it. This treatment is usually only mildly painful and is often effective, although you may need repeated treatments. Freezing works by causing a blister to form under and around your wart. Then, the dead tissue sloughs off within a week or so.
- Minor surgery. This involves cutting away the wart tissue or burning it with electricity. However, the injection of anesthetic given before this surgery can be painful, and the surgery may leave a scar. For these reasons, surgery is usually reserved for warts that haven't responded to other therapies.
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Feb. 16, 2012.
- Goldstein BG, et al. Cutaneous warts. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 16, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed Feb. 16, 2012.