A wart is a benign lesion characterized as a hard, horny nodule that may appear anywhere on the body, but particularly on the hands and feet. Warts are removed by freezing, electrodesiccation, or surgical excision.
Salicyclic acid, podophyllum resin, and cantharidin are three medications commonly used to remove warts. Salicylic acid promotes desquamation. However, salicylic acid is also absorbed through the skin and can result in salicylism (toxicity).
Podophyllum resin is used to remove venereal warts, but is not as effective against the common wart. Podophyllum also can be absorbed through the skin resulting in toxic symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, blood dyscrasias, and kidney impairment. Podophyllum can cause teratogenic effects and should not be used during pregnancy.
Cantharidin (Cantharone, Verr-Canth) is used to remove the common wart, but can be harmful to the normal skin. Cantharidin is applied topically, allowed to dry, and covered with a nonporous tape for 24 hours. This treatment is repeated in a week or two.
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