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Common warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Common Warts

This virus causes rapid multiplication of skin cells, and as a result, benign skin growths are developed that can be quite annoying rather than dangerous, but also quite contagious.

The different types of the virus usually create warts on various parts of the body.

The virus is transmitted through direct skin contact or by touching wet surfaces.

After the initial contact, HPV may be inactive or in a latent state, while there is some possibility that the symptoms/lesions are not visible.

This means that many people may have been infected by HPV without ever knowing it. It can take up to six months before the development of a wart (incubation period).

Despite the fact that all people may be exposed to HPV, some people seem to be more sensitive, while others are more resistant to the virus. It is easier for warts to appear when the immune system is weak.

It is more possible for children and adolescents to be infected, since their organism hasn’t developed antibodies yet and they may be more frequently in contact with people who have warts.

Warts may be easier to develop in people receiving steroid medication or people suffering from diseases that suspend the function of the immune system, such as the HIV infection.

Most warts appear during the summer, due to activities involving more contact with other people, such as swimming and camping. The most widespread types of warts are the common warts and the plantar warts.

Common warts are usually found on the fingers, at the back of one’s palm, on the arms and legs, as well as on the soles of the feet.

Common warts are benign skin growths. A common wart is a rough growth with an uneven surface that looks like a cauliflower. Nevertheless, warts may have a round shape or other more irregular shapes, they may be flat or bulging and can be as big as a bean. Their colour may be white, grey or brown. Common warts usually develop around the nails, on the fingers and on the back of the palm, but they can also appear on one’s knees or face, mainly on parts of the skin that have been torn.

Warts are contagious and can possibly infect other parts of the body or other people. This is why immediate treatment is necessary.

Furthermore, warts can be very annoying and look really bad. Plantar warts can be painful. The treatment reduces the chances of transmission to other people or other parts of one’s body.

Depending on their size, warts can be effectively treated through the combined use of two laser systems: Pulsed Dye Laser (V- Beam) and CO2 Laser.

These Laser systems work selective, causing thermolysis at local level in the areas where the lesions are located without affecting the surrounding healthy tissues. In addition to this with these Lasers it is possible to achieve selective destruction of the capillary vessels that feed the lesions.

Therefore, lesions are destroyed selectively and selective inhibition is also achieved to avoid reoccurrence.

Treatment involves the use of a local anaesthetic cream and usually 1-3 sessions are essential before complete elimination of the warts is achieved. The sessions take place approximately every 20 days, and after treatment is over monthly examinations are performed to monitor the condition.

During the monthly examination we have to make sure that no new lesions have developed from the initial ones, since the incubation period of the virus can last for up to 6 months.

The healing criterion is the complete absence of lesions for 6 successive months and the recovery of the epidermal dermatoglyphic lines.

The possibility of new disorders’ appearance after the 6-month period is due to the re-infection of the warts by the HPV.

About the author:

Christofer Tzermias

Specialised in the UK (Oxford & London) and in North America (New York & San Diego) in the field of LASER Dermatology, Dr Tzermias, has been providing dermatological state-of-the-art treatments using cutting-edge LASER and Energy based Devices for over 20 years. He has been Director of Interventional and LASER Dermatology Department at the Athens Medical Center for over 18 years and for the last 9 years is the Scientific Director of IQ - Intensive Quality Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics, which at the 2017 Healthcare Awards won the ‘Innovation Award for Innovative Services’ for their pioneering contributions. Since 2018, IQ Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Clinics has also been operating in London, UK and in Muscat, Oman. Dr Tzermias is a Fellow of the world-renowned American Society for LASER Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS), a Founder Member of the European Society LASER Dermatology (ESLD), the Vice President of the ‘Open Health Alliance’ and he is also on the Board of Directors of Elitour - Greek Medical Tourism Council.

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