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Want a flawless complexion?
Avni Mehta
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March 16, 2007

Besides pimples and blackheads, warts can also ruin a flawless complexion.

Warts are simply areas of skin that grow faster than normal due to the presence of the wart virus, 'human papillomavis' virus. 

They may appear as small, fleshy, grainy bumps that may be skin-coloured, white, pink, or tan.

Most commonly found on hands, feet and face, they grow almost anywhere in the body.

Can you get warts?

They occur in people of all ages but more commonly in children and young adults. They are mildly contagious and can be spread by direct contact, simply by touching the wart.

As warts are caused by a virus, the body generally builds up a resistance over a period of time and causes the warts to disappear.

Most warts typically disappear after a few months but can last for years and can recur. It appears that your susceptibility to warts and the time it takes for them to go away is related to your immune system. 

Types of warts

There are several different types including:

Common warts:  These appear near the fingernails but can also appear on any part of the hand.
People who bite their nails or pick at hangnails are most likely to get common warts.

Foot (plantar) warts: These are usually found on the soles of the feet and may have tiny black dots in them. These black dots are small, clotted blood vessels.

While common warts are usually painless, plantar warts can be painful because they press inward when you stand on your feet, feeling like a stone in the shoe.

Common warts and plantar warts are not usually a serious health concern.

Flat warts:  These are much smaller and less rough than hand or foot warts. Flat warts are less common than other types, however they to grow in great numbers at any one time.

They can appear anywhere on the body, although they commonly appear on the face in children and around the beard area in men and on legs in women. Skin irritation from shaving probably accounts for this in adults.

Home Remedies

~ Apply some garlic juice to the wart twice a day. It should be gone in a week or two.

~ Apply a drop of plain castor oil to the wart twice daily and then tape it as above.

~ You could also apply Vitamin E oil, clove oil, aloe vera juice, milkweed juice, the milky juice of the sow's thistle plant, or the milky juice of unripe figs directly to the wart. 

~ Have garlic capsules or tablets.

~ Soak lemon slices in apple cider with a little salt. Then rub the lemon slices on the wart. 

~ Rub with a piece of chalk or a raw potato.

~ Tape the inner side of a banana skin to a plantar wart.

~ Making a paste from crushed Vitamin C tablets and water has helped some people. Apply to the wart and then cover with a bandage so the paste doesn't rub off. Evidence shows that the high acidity of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) can kill the wart-producing virus.

Professional treatment

If the home remedies do not work, then you may need to get professional help. Over-the-counter medication can be used initially for removal of warts, but do not use this method for warts on the face or genitals.

A dermatologist or physician who is trained to use a variety of treatments, needs to be consulted when this happens. A doctor can apply medicines, burn or freeze the wart off, or take the wart off with surgery.

Cryotherapy (freezing): Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze a wart. Several treatments may be needed. 

This treatment is generally preferred for common warts in adults and older children. This method may be slightly painful and around fingernails can deform the nails.

Injection: Medication is injected into the wart to kill the virus.

Surgical methods: These include laser surgery and electrosurgery to burn the wart, or simply cutting the wart.

Immunotherapy: One type of method is to make the patient allergic to a certain chemical which would then be painted on the wart. A mild allergic reaction occurs around the treated warts, and this may result in the disappearance of the warts.

Salon tips

Make sure that staff at your local salon avoids using the same file or nail clipper on the warts, as they have done on healthy nails.

All implements such as cuticle nippers, cuticle scissors, cuticle knife, nail clippers, callous paring blades and reusable and straight razors should be sterilised before use on different clients. The best sterilisation methods are steam, dry heat, and chemical germicides.

You must be given a clean towel, a fresh bowl of soapy water to soak your nails in and a fresh nail file.

Both the nail technician and you, should wash your hands with an antimicrobial soap before working he or she works on your nails. 

If the therapists use disposable instruments, wear rubber gloves, use appropriate sterilisation techniques and employ a proper hand washing routine using an antimicrobial soap before working on clients, the risk of spreading the infection can be reduced.

-- The author is a skin expert, Education Director of Nytec Beauty International, India & St John's Salon, London and has introduced Dermalogica range in India.

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