We all know the witch stereotype in which (pun intended!) warts plaster their faces, but warts are actually a fairly common skin condition and can take many forms.
What causes warts?
Warts are a common skin growth due to an infection with a virus. The virus enters the body through breaks in the skin where it continues to multiply.
“This causes a rough skin growth or ‘wart’. The virus responsible for wart formation is the Human Papilloma Virus, it has over 100+ strains, many of which are benign.”
What types of warts are there?
There are many subtypes of warts, the most prevalent being common warts, flat warts, plantar warts, and genital warts.
- Common warts are a “cauliflower-like” skin growth often found on areas prone to trauma – for example the hands, elbows, knees, and feet.
- Flat warts are slightly elevated, flat-topped, skin-colored growths. They are most often seen on the face and hands. They can spread either from shaving or scratching the lesions.
- Plantar warts are callous like growths on the soles of the feet. They tend to be flattened due to direct pressure. However, they can be tender and spread out to involve a larger surface area.
- Genital warts are a sexually transmitted infection, most commonly from the HPV strains 6 or 11. There is no cure, but they can be treated when new lesions form. They are highly contagious but are rare in those who have been vaccinated against HPV subtypes before the onset of sexual activity.
How are warts treated?
“Not all warts require treatment and may resolve on their own. However, when warts become bothersome in-office specialized treatments can be done.”
Treatments include Cryotherapy (cold spray), Cantharidin (blistering agent), injectable purified yeast, and even laser therapy.
Over the counter preparations are available as well, these include topical salicylic acid solutions and “freeze therapies”
Boils can often be confused for many things–not just a pertinent part of a witch’s brew recipe.
What is a boil?
A boil is an infection of the hair follicle that has a small collection of pus under the skin. They tend to be red, tender, and slightly swollen.
How are boils treated?
Treatment varies depending on the severity of infection associated with the boil. It is important to never pick at or squeeze a boil, as this can lead to a worsening infection.
“Small boils can be treated at home with warm compresses to help the lesion drain and allow the natural healing of the wound. However, larger boils often require in-office therapies such as incision and drainage procedures, wound cultures, and oral antibiotics.”
Of all the things that go bump in the night, spiders are typically among the least dangerous. That said, many people may wake up with strange bumps and redness on certain parts of their bodies (sadly, they do not gain superpowers from them).
What does a spider bite look like?
Spider bites cause a red, swollen, tender, and sometimes itchy bump on the skin.
“Bites from poisonous spiders may have more serious symptoms including blisters and necrosis, which is blackened dead skin tissue.”
When should I see a dermatologist for a spider bite?
It is best to seek medical attention if you are unsure if you were bitten by a poisonous spider. Other concerning features include severe pain, ulceration, fever, chills and non-healing lesions.
Pirates aren’t the only ones who suffer from scabies! Though not super common, it can still wreak havoc if you end up with it.
What is scabies?
Scabies is a highly contagious skin condition caused by an infestation of mites. The infestation is notorious for causing an extremely itchy rash, which is often worse at night.
What does scabies look like?
Scabies mites are extremely hard to see, the adult mite only being 0.3 mm long. However, there are some signs to be aware of other than the extreme itch.
“These signs include linear pink-to red bumps on the skin which may also have a thread-like burrow.”
How do you get rid of scabies?
Treatment requires prescription topical or oral medications. Permethrin 5% cream is often first line treatment. It is applied neck down to all skin surfaces, folds, even under the finger and toenails. It is to be left on overnight (8-14 hours) and washed off in the morning. The treatment is often repeated in 1 week.
“Other steps to prevent re-infection include treating household contacts, washing all linens that have been used within the last 72 hours, vacuuming carpets, and putting anything that cannot be laundered in plastic bags for at least 72 hours.”
Lice may be among the most irritating of all these spooky skin conditions. If you’re not sure what lice is, they’re similar to vampires, just smaller and with 6 legs! Lice are small insects that live on your scalp, feasting on your blood (and laying eggs to hatch more creepy crawlers—yikes).
Though you won’t turn into a lice after getting bitten, you will have a gnarly urge to scratch your scalp until they’re removed.
Can anyone get lice?
Yes, anyone can get lice.
“It is a very common infestation that is highly contagious from one person to another. It affects children as well as adults. It does not correlate to poor hygiene.”
How do you check for lice?
We check for lice by examining the hair, scalp, and neck. Often “nits” or eggs can be seen stuck on like glue to the hair follicle near the scalp. Rarely an adult louse can be seen.
How do you get rid of lice?
There are many over the counter medications to treat head lice. Once in particular, Ivermectin (Sklice) 0.5% is an antiparasitic lotion that is applied to dry hair, left on for 10 minutes, and then rinsed off with water.
Skin cancer (especially melanoma)
The spookiest of all is saved for last, because skin cancer can be fatal.
How common is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More common skin cancers, like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma do not arise from a mole.
“These cancers form red, scaly, or pearly-like bumps in the skin that do not heal. Melanoma, the most-deadly form of skin cancer, involves a changing mole or a new mole that becomes cancerous in the skin.”
Melanoma unfortunately has increased incidence over the past 30 years.
How dangerous can it be?
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are highly treatable and curable if caught and treated early. Melanoma has a 99% survival rate if caught early, however it is a highly aggressive cancer.
“The 5-year survival rate dramatically decreases if the melanoma has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.”
While these skin conditions can seem spooky and even scary to deal with, Apex Skin can help you get them straightened out. Have a scary skin issue? Book a same-day appointment today!
Tayler Yoder is a board-certified Nurse Practitioner at Apex Dermatology. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She then spent 5 years as a registered nurse working primarily in critical care. Tayler pursued her Master of Science in Nursing degree through Ursuline College where she earned a scholarship for academic excellence.
Tayler recently completed Apex’s dermatology internship, where she learned from the finest dermatological providers in Northeast Ohio. She sees patients for all skin conditions including adult and pediatric dermatology.
Tayler has lived in the Cleveland area for about 6 years and has slowly transitioned to become a Cleveland Sports fan, largely thanks to her husband and their dog Rookie.