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Treatment for Warts on Hands and Fingers: A "Common" Problem

Updated on February 4, 2015
Chris Telden profile image

Chris Telden, with a B.A. in sociology, has been writing online about health and lifestyle issues that interest her for nearly a decade.

Hand warts are also known as common warts. Hand warts are benign skin growths that grow on the palms, the backs of the hands, or the fingers. They occur on kids' hands more than on adults', and they can spread. Since they're caused by a virus that lingers in the body even after the warts disappear, there is not really a "cure." You can treat hand warts or leave them alone. They're harmless, they don't usually hurt, and they usually go away on their own within a couple of years, though they might recur.

Removal of common warts can be as non-invasive as a topical solution or as invasive as surgery.

What Causes Hand Warts?

The virus that causes hand warts is one version out of nearly a hundred of the human papilloma virus (HPV).  Some permutations of HPV can cause cervical cancer, plantar warts and other types of warts.  Yet hand warts are, as mentioned earlier, benign, if contagious.  Common warts are spread easily, either by skin-to-skin contact or by skin-to-object contact.  Different people's immune systems vary in their defenses against developing hand warts.  Hand warts are fortunately less contagious than warts on other parts of the body.

What do Hand Warts Look Like?

Hand warts appear on the fingers and by the fingernails as well as on the palms and the back of your hands.  They have a rough appearance, are small, and show small bumps. Their color may be flesh colored, white or pink.  You may see just a single wart or you may see a cluster...or, because warts spread easily, you may see them in several places on your hands.  The black specks that appear on common warts are actually blood vessels.

How to Prevent and Keep Hand Warts From Spreading

Prevent hand warts from spreading by drying your hands when they get wet.  Keep warts covered with bandages if they're likely to come in contact with other objects.  If you touch combs, nail clippers, or other personal items with the common warts, then take the time after use to disinfect them.  Keep hand warts away from the mouth or other parts of the body.  Any skin that comes in contact with a common wart should be washed and dried.

Treatment for Warts on Hands

As stated above, it's not necessary to treat your hand warts, since they generally disappear over time. But if you want to get rid of them now, check with your doctor or dermatologist about the following hand wart treatments:

  • Salicylic acid, applied topically every day after soaking the common wart in warm water. (Salicylic acid is aspirin. Because of the risks aspirin poses for babies and kids, if you want to use this for children and if you're pregnant, check first with your doctor. Always follow the label's instructions.)
  • Cryotherapy: A dermatologist freezes the wart with liquid nitrogen.
  • Surgery performed by your doctor or a dermatologist to "burn" the wart. From my own childhood experience with plantar warts, I warn you that this can hurt a lot - not the removal itself, but the application of local anesthesia, which can hit the sensitive nerves nearby.
  • Cantharidin
  • Laser Surgery

What Has Removed Your Hand Warts?

What treatment has been the most effective for you, personally?

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Take care of yourself and use common sense. The author of this article is not a medical professional and this article should not be taken as medical advice. If you have what you think might be a hand wart, check with your dermatologist or healthcare provider to make sure it is truly that.

© 2009 Chris Telden


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