W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPhBernhardt Professor, Nonprescription Products and also Devices

Gabriel E. Pray, PharmD Candidate

Melissa Pray, PharmD CandidateCollege of PharmacySouthwestern Oklahoma State UniversityWeatherford, Oklahoma

US Pharm. 2011;36(8):15-23.

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Patients often ask the pharmacist because that advice about warts. That is imperative to inquire around the location and also appearance that the lesions. Warts in some locations (e.g., hands, feet) deserve to be self-treated, however warts in other areas (e.g., face, mucous membranes, genitals) call for referral to a physician.

Etiology of Warts

An estimated 16% that the basic populations suffers indigenous warts.1 Warts, or papillomas, are brought about by a team of viruses recognized as human papillomaviruses (HPVs).2,3 these double-stranded viruses stimulate basal cell division to create lesions the are typically located in the upper epithelial tissues.1 over there are much more than 150 related viruses and also over 200 subgroups represented in this group, however not all room responsible for causing warts.1,2 Warts top top the hands and feet room not transmitted as easily as sexually connected HPVs, commonly being brought about by HPV subtypes 1, 2, 4, 27, and also 57.2,4 Thirty-five varieties are well-known to epidemic the genital tract, most typically subtypes 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, and 59 because that squamous cabinet carcinoma and also adenocarcinoma the the cervix.4 species 6 and also 11 are commonly linked with warts in the anogenital area.4

Sexually sent HPV varieties that have tendency to create cancers are described as high-risk or carcinogenic HPVs.2 HPV has actually been linked to cervical, anal, vulvar, vaginal, penile, and oral cancers.

Other pets can carry papillomaviruses, but they are particular to that species. Contrary to superstition, frogs and also toads cannot lug the virus and thus cannot pass the virus ~ above to human being hosts.1

Epidemiology the Warts

Most species of warts exhibit an age-related epidemiology, developing with greater frequency in those aged 12 come 16 years.1,5 over there is likewise a various risk by gender, v females developing warts an ext often and also earlier in life; incidence peaks at 13 years in females, however at 14.5 years in males.1 Immunodeficiency can additionally increase the risk for warts.5

Damaging the skin increases the danger of warts.5,6 Thus, go barefoot is a clear epidemiologic indicator of those that will contract plantar warts.

Another risk aspect is having actually existing warts, i beg your pardon is a predictor of future warts.1 moving a virus come oneself is known as autoinoculation. Patients v warts should be advised no to bite, pick, or otherwise damages them, together doing so have the right to release famous particles. This particles can implant on nearby skin surfaces and may eventually cause crops that warts in a closely circumscribed area. Biting a wart can allow the virus come implant on the tongue, mucous membrane, or lips. Youngsters should it is in instructed no to bite their fingernails or pick at hangnails, together both of these nervous actions can lead to skin breakage and also increase the risk of warts. Shaving can spread an present wart to new areas.6 because that this reason, the face in men and the legs in women space common assault sites.5

Patients may ask the pharmacist wherein or exactly how they contracted the virus. HPV have the right to have a lengthy latency period (perhaps 8 months or more), so the is usually impossible to recognize the causal ar or behavior.3 Infected patient may have touched a wart on one more person.5 lock may have contacted a fomite (i.e., things that may be contaminated with infectious organisms), such together a towel the an infected human used to dry himself. Castle may have walked barefoot in one area where an infected human being walked v bare feet, the many common means by i m sorry plantar warts room spread. In this case, pharmacists can assist identify such usual wart inoculation sites together swimming pools, gyms, and communal shower head stalls. Patients may recall a particular skin break that enabled penetration, such together tattooing or skin piercing.


Types of Warts

Common Warts: usual warts (verruca vulgaris) constitute 70% of every warts.1 they seldom cause pain or discomfort, uneven they happen in a component of the body where recurring environmental contact or uncomfortable friction with garments continually abrades them.7 lock are most often discovered on the fingers, approximately the fingernails, and also on the backs the the hands, back they deserve to infect any component of the skin.8 They flourish outward (a form of pattern recognized as exophytic), and the raised round or oval surface has actually a turbulent appearance, lot like the of a cauliflower.1,7,8 The color is dark, light, or periodically black.7 patient often notice small black color dots in the wart. These dots have the appearance of tiny seeds, leading to their being described as seed warts. Back patients believe that these “seeds” space the causative agents of added warts, they space actually coagulated blood vessels.1

Plantar Warts: Plantar warts space usually situated on the sole of the foot, one area also known together the plantar surface.1,8 consistent pressure led to by walking pushes the wart inward, so that plantar warts are referred to as endophytic (growing inward). The press of walking reasons discomfort that might be soft (like a rock in the shoe) or vigorously painful, hampering together normal activities as walking and running.7 these warts may likewise exhibit black color spots top top the surface. Patients may develop several plantar warts the are associated beneath the skin surface, a condition known as mosaic warts.

Flat Warts: together the name implies, level warts are flush with the surface of the skin.1,8 when they have the right to be discovered on any section of the skin, they prefer men’s beards, women’s legs, and children’s faces. They are smaller sized than usual warts, and tend come implant in big crops the 100 or more. Flat warts are more common in children, and also they room actually rather rare in adults.7

Filiform Warts: The differentiating characteristic that filiform warts is include in the name, which method “thread-shaped.” this warts construct extensions that deserve to rapidly thrive out into surrounding skin.1,8 typical sites encompass the perioral and also periorbital areas and also the nose.

Subungual and Periungual Warts: when the patient has actually warts top top the hand or feet, they may spread come the areas around the fingernails or toenails. They can likewise grow underneath the nails. Those beneath the nails room extremely challenging to cure.7

Genital Warts: Genital warts, also known together condyloma acuminata, are situated on the genitalia, pubic area, between the thighs, within the vagina, or in the anal canal.7 They bring a high famous load, so the as plenty of as 65% of a patient’s sexual contacts will additionally become infected.3 Genital warts can cause cervical, anal, vulvar, vaginal, penile, and also oropharyngeal cancers.9,10

Spontaneous Regression

Untreated warts often disappear without any treatment, a phenomenon well-known as spontaneous regression. However, the patient cannot predict even if it is this will eventually occur, and waiting because that it permits the wart to spread out the virus come the patient and also to others. Therefore, that is preferable come seek appropriate care to remove the wart(s).

Treatment Options

Nonprescription Medications: Nonprescription commodities are only safe and also effective when treating common or plantar warts.1 Patients need to not treat any other type of wart and also should not apply wart assets to birthmarks, moles, or inexplicable warts v hair farming from them. They should not act warts on the face, mucous membranes, or genitals. Patients that wish to treat hand warts need to be advised to store the hands as dry as possible during treatment, as overhydration of the stratum corneum can facilitate viral release (with the exemption of the suggested pretreatment soaking). Wart products should be avoided if the skin is irritated, infected, or erythematous. Patients v diabetes mellitus or poor circulation must not usage them as result of an raised risk that infection. The preferably time of usage is 12 weeks. If the wart stays after this, the patient have to be instructed to check out a physician.

The just safe and also effective nonprescription wart medication is salicylic acid.1,11 prepare are easily accessible in gelatin or collodion-based liquids (5%-17% salicylic acid), spot (12%-40%), and a karaya gum/glycol patch (15%). Collodion-based liquids must not it is in used about fire or flame and must be tightly capped after use to protect against evaporation the the ether. If clearly shows crystals show up in a bottle, it must be discarded. Patients need to not inhale the vapors indigenous collodion-based products. They have to presoak the area because that 5 minutes and dry it thoroughly prior to application of the product.

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent the slowly gets rid of epidermal cell infected with HPV. The dosage forms likewise occlude the skin, and also presoaking followed by occlusion aids the product’s activity through maceration the the stratum corneum.

Liquids must be used one or 2 times day-to-day with the applicator. Patients might surround the wart with petrolatum to aid prevent that from reaching healthy and balanced skin. Plasters/patches are reduced to size, applied, and left on for 48 hours, after i beg your pardon a brand-new one is applied.

Freezing Therapies: Physicians have long used cryotherapy come cure warts. A usual regimen is liquid nitrogen in ~ -196˚C (-321˚F) applied until the wart has a 2 mm white halo surrounding it.4 some physicians proceed this application until the halo has actually been present for 20 seconds. Pain and blistering space common.

Since 2003, manufacturers have actually marketed nonprescription products that purport to freeze warts off.1 this cryogenic wart remove systems room regulated together medical tools by the FDA.1 They include Compound W frozen Off, Dr. Scholl’s frozen Away, and Wartner.12 all contain dimethyl ether and also propane, and the latter also lists isobutane. These commodities cannot reach the temperature completed by liquid nitrogen, or they would be far too dangerous because that OTC sales. They also carry countless precautions to help ensure safe use, such together prohibiting use in children under the age of 4 years.1,12

Occlusion: Collodion-based assets occlude the area, possibly augmenting their efficacy. This has actually led come the widespread practice of placing duct tape over the wart. In spite of positive evaluate in the put media, over there is small evidence to assistance its efficacy.13



Which Warts deserve to Be Self-Treated?

Warts can appear anywhere on the body, although not all types should it is in self-treated. Because that example, you cannot self-treat warts top top the face. Nonprescription wart assets work by progressively eating right into the area wherein they room applied. Eventually, they expose the wart and also slowly damage it. There is a slight possibility that the skin can look abnormal after the wart is eradicated. If this to be to take place on the face, it would be a permanent scar.

Similarly, you cannot self-treat warts ~ above the mucous membranes, such as inside the nose or mouth. Wart products are just safely used to the outer layer of dead skin, and mucous membrane is living tissue.

Finally, you have to not self-treat warts that the genital area. They can be indications of a sexually transmitted an illness and have to be evaluated by a physician.

Be certain It Is a Wart!

Before you shot to act a wart, you have to be sure that it is not something else. Never use wart assets to birthmarks, as they can scar the skin. If the doubt wart has actually hair cultivation from that is surface, it is finest to seek clinical advice, as warts typically do no exhibit hair growth. You should never try to eliminate a mole v wart products. Doing therefore could reason pain, bleeding, and scarring.

How perform You use Nonprescription Products?

Legitimate nonprescription wart commodities all have salicylic acid as the active ingredient. Friend can pick from number of dosage forms. Liquids are basic to use. You simply use the liquid with the applicator gave (usually a little brush) until the wart is covered. Make certain you perform not gain the product on healthy skin, together the salicylic acid will eat into healthy and balanced skin just as it does v the wart.

You may also choose a patch; these products are easy to usage as well. Some space precut circles. You should first remove the adhesive, then center the patch end the wart, pressing it come ensure that adheres well. Other patches are little rectangles or squares that permit you to reduced the dimension needed before pressing it end the wart.

Gels frequently come in plastic bottles that make it difficult to use since friend cannot check out where the gelatin is in the squeeze bottle. You may accidentally apply too much. Ask your pharmacist if you have other questions.

How lengthy Does therapy Take?

If her skin problem is really a wart, nonprescription wart commodities should start to slowly eat it away. Girlfriend should notification improvement within a week, and complete removal of the wart in ~ a few weeks, return the exact time is dependent on the dimension of the wart, its location, and whether you apply the product exactly as directed.

You have actually a preferably time that 12 mainly to shot to remove the wart on your own. After the time, you need to see a physician. What you think is a wart could actually be a squamous cabinet skin cancer, melanoma, or any kind of of several other problems that need a physician’s intervention.


1. Pray WS. Nonprescription Product Therapeutics. second ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.2. Person papillomaviruses and also cancer. National Cancer Institute. Www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/risk/HPV. Accessed June 29, 2011.3. Juckett G, Hartman-Adams H. Human being papillomavirus: clinical manifestations and also prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82:1209-1218.4. Lipke MM. An armamentarium the wart treatments. Clin Med Res. 2006;4:273-293.5. Warts: that gets and causes. American Academy of Dermatology. Www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/warts/who-gets-causes/warts-who-gets-and-causes. Accessed June 29, 2011.6. Warts. American Academy of Dermatology. Www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/warts. Accessed June 29, 2011.7. Warts. PubMed Health. Www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001888/. Accessed June 29, 2011.8. Warts: signs and also symptoms. American Academy of Dermatology. Www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/warts/signs-symptoms/warts-signs-and-symptoms. Accessed June 29, 2011.9. Colón-López V, Ortiz AP, Palefsky J. Load of person papillomavirus infection and also related comorbidities in men: effects for research, condition prevention and health promotion amongst Hispanic men. P R health Sci J. 2010;29:232-240.10. Palefsky JM. Human papillomavirus-related disease in men: not simply a women’s issue.

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J Adolesc Health. 2010;46(suppl 4):S12-S19.11. Leung L. Recalcitrant nongenital warts. Aust Fam Physician. 2011;40:40-42.12. Compound W frozen Off. Dr. Scholl’s frozen Away. Wartner. Www.drugstore.com. Accessed July 5, 2011.13. Wenner R, Askari SK, Cham PM, et al. Duct tape for the treatment of typical warts in adults: a double-blind randomized managed trial. Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:309-313.14. D’Souza G, Kreimer AR, Viscidi R, et al. Case-control examine of human being papillomavirus and also oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med. 2007;356:1944-1956.15. Syrjänen S. Human being papillomavirus (HPV) in head and neck cancer. J Clin Virol. 2005;323(suppl):S59-S66.16. Scully C. Dental squamous cabinet carcinoma: from an hypothesis around a virus, to worry about possible sexual transmission. oral Oncol. 2002;38:227-234.