Do you have tiny rough bumps on your hands and around your fingers? Those may be warts, which are symptoms of an infection by the human papillomavirus or HPV. These warts are usually called “common warts” to differentiate them from genital warts that grow on the genital area. Common warts are usually painless and don’t cause any harm. If you have warts on your hands, you may want to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons.
How do Warts Spread?
There are more than 100 types of HPV. While some of these types cause cervical cancer, others are harmless except for the fact that they cause warts. Common warts pass from one person to another through contact with people suffering from HPV. Each person, though, responds differently to contact with HPV, which means not everyone who is exposed to HPV gets warts. According to experts, warts can also be transmitted by sharing personal items, like towels and clothes.
Warts on your hands and fingers may spread to other areas on your body. You have a greater risk of spreading the virus on your own body if you have breaks in your skin like wounds and scrapes. In addition, do not bite your nails because this may cause warts to grow around your nails and fingertips. (Learn how to stop biting your nails)
Warts or Not?
Common warts may look like symptoms of other diseases, so be sure to have yourself diagnosed by your doctor. Warts on hands and fingers are typically flesh-colored, tan, white or pink. They are rough and may appear in groups.
Common warts are usually painless. They may bleed however, if you pick or cut them. Cutting warts on your hands may reveal black spots that some people call wart seeds. These are actually blood vessels that have clotted because of the warts. Children and young adults are the most common hosts of viruses that cause common warts.
Medical Treatments for Hand Warts
Warts on your hands and fingers don’t require treatment because they are harmless. You may still want to get rid of them however, for cosmetic purposes and to prevent their spread to other areas of your body. Home treatment is usually enough to get rid of common warts but if it doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest the following medical procedures:
- Cryotherapy: This procedure works by freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen and then shedding them off. The process is not that painful and is often very effective. You may need several sessions of cryotherapy though, to remove all the warts. (For more info on this procedure, read how to get rid of warts by freezing)
- Cantharidin application: Your doctor may apply cantharidin along with other chemicals on affected areas of your skin and cover them with bandage. The procedure is painless, though the resulting blisters are uncomfortable. These blisters lift the warts off the skin, making removal a lot easier.
- Minor surgery: Warts on your hands can also be removed through minor surgery, which usually involves cutting warts or destroying them with an electric needle. While the destruction of the warts itself is not that painful, the injection of anesthesia can cause some pain. Another drawback is that the procedure may lead to scarification. Minor surgery is usually not advised until all other treatments have been tried.
- Laser surgery: Another surgical method to get rid of warts on your hands is laser surgery. The procedure involves destroying warts with a laser. It can be quite expensive and may result in scarification. It’s usually done to remove tough warts.
Home Treatments for Common Warts
After your doctor diagnoses you with common warts, you have the option to either treat them at home or at the hospital. The following home treatments are safe and can be effective at getting rid of some or all warts on your hands. Consult your doctor all throughout your home treatment however, to avoid any complications.
Be gentle with your hands that have warts: Clipping areas with warts is dangerous because this might spread the virus to other parts of your body. Also, do not use the same nail clipper or file that you use on your warts to cut your finger nails. Picking at warts should also be avoided because this promotes the spread of the virus. If you have a child that has warts on his hands, cover his hands with bandage to prevent him from picking at the warts. Finally, always keep your hands dry because warts spread easier in moist environments.
Use wart patches: Wart patches contain salicylic acid that peels off the skin. Experts recommend choosing patches that contain 17 percent of the acid to effectively get rid of hand warts. Use patches every day for a few weeks or until warts are gone or have lessened.
Make sure to soak your hand in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes before using the patch. Slough off the warts using a pumice stone or a nail file between each treatment. Be careful though, since the acid in wart patches can cause some damage to the healthy skin around the warts. Also, talk to your doctor before using any acid treatment if you’re pregnant. Wart patches can be used along with other treatments, like cryotherapy.
Try the duct tape method: Some people use duct tape to get rid of their hand warts. Researchers are divided on the effectiveness of the duct tape method in getting rid of warts. One study showed that duct tape can be more effective than cryotherapy. To do this treatment, simply cover affected areas with duct tape for about six days. Next, soak the your hand in warm water and rub off the warts with a pumice stone or an emery board. Repeat the process for two months or until all warts are gone. (For more tips on this process, read how to remove warts with duct tape)
Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any wart-like features on your hands or fingers. It’s important for HPV to get diagnosed early so that the spread of warts can be prevented. Consider leaving the warts on your hands if they’re not causing you any pain or discomfort. Medical procedures carry some risks that may be harder to deal with in the future, like scarification. If the warts are not that many and you can hide them comfortably, it may be best to just leave them there and wait for them to go away on their own. If you enjoyed learning this article, you’ll surely enjoy reading how to remove genital warts.