Warts are unsightly, hard, rough, raised growth on the skin caused by a very slow-growing virus (papillomavirus), which take months or years to cause a wart. Only about a quarter of the population is susceptible to the wart virus, the rest have natural immunity.
They are most common in children from 8 to 16 years of age, but people with warts should not be isolated for fear of spreading the disease, as the virus is widespread in the community. The most common sites affected are the knees, elbows, hands and feet.
Treatments that may be tried include acid paints (eg. keratolytics, podophyllum) applied regularly to eat away the wart tissue, freezing (cryotherapy) with liquid nitrogen which causes the wart to fall off after a few days, burning the wart tissue away with a high voltage electric current (diathermy) or laser, injecting a cell destroying substance (bleomycin) under the wart, immunotherapy (inducing a skin reaction under and around the wart), or rarely cutting the wart out surgically. Warts may recur after all forms of treatment, and only warts that are causing disfigurement or discomfort should be treated, as a scar may remain after any form of surgery, diathermy or cryotherapy.
Warts usually go away by themselves without any treatment, but this may take many months or years. The average life span of a wart is about 18 months, but some may last several years.