Oral warts treatment involves the use of creams that contain anti-viral agents. Warts resistant to topical therapy may respond to cryotherapy or laser therapy.
Oral warts is an infection of the human papilloma virus (HPV), in which abnormal skin growths are seen on the lips or anywhere inside the mouth. These cauliflower shaped benign tumors (sometimes painful) usually appear on the tongue or the roof of the mouth in people affected with oral warts. A weakened immune system and having oral sex with an infected partner are some of the factors that predispose a person to oral warts.
Warts on the tongue or any other part of oral activity is not curable and can recur after treatment. The methods to treat oral warts (given below) only work superficially, which means they are helpful to eliminate the warts from the skin, but do not kill the root cause (virus). Nevertheless, warts removal is assured with these treatment options.
Topical agents are used when warts strike the lips. Doctor may prescribe podofilex gel or imoquimod balm as they act as excellent anti-viral agents and may help to speed up the healing. Although they might not be very effective in destroying the virus, these topical agents are capable enough to remove these unusual skin growths. As per the doctor’s guidelines, these creams need to be applied on warts that occur outside the body (on the skin). Using them on infected areas inside the mouth, such as on the tongue or on the roof of the mouth is not advised. One can also use retinoid creams (tretinoin) obtained from skin friendly nutrient vitamin A. They interfere with the wart’s growth, thereby facilitating removal of the warts.
Liquid nitrogen, also known as cryotherapy, is also useful to treat warts that appear inside the mouth as well as on the lips. Application of liquid nitrogen freezes the skin lesions like warts and moles. Freezing helps to damage blood vessels that supply blood to the warts. This in turn disrupts their growth, eventually diminishing in size and comes off. Basically, cryotherapy leads to localized swelling, hence, the nearby tissues are not damaged. A cotton swab or a surgical instrument may be used to apply the liquid nitrogen on the desired location. The freezing effect may cause a blister to erupt at the infected site. However, there is nothing to worry about, as the blister goes away on its own within a few days. With cryotherapy, the patient is bound to experience some amount of pain. Also, multiple sessions of cryotherapy spaced between 1 – 3 weeks may be required to heal the warts.
Interpheron alpha injection may also be used to get rid of warts.Basically, interpheron is a type of protein and is present in the body in minuscule amounts. These proteins display anti-viral activity against harmful microbes. Interpheron alpha is an aqueous solution containing this protein. When administered subcutaneously (below the skin), it assists in strengthening the immune system, which might benefit to combat the infection successfully.
This process involves burning the damaged tissues by passing electricity through a small probe. The electric current heats the metal probe which is then brought into contact with the wart. The heated tip of the probe destroys the unwanted raised skin growth.
Pulse dye or CO2 laser might be used to burn the stubborn warts. Though expensive, this laser therapy is very effective to get rid of resistant warts that appear in difficult areas. The CO2 laser vaporizes the targeted area to remove the warts. Just one session of CO2 laser may be needed and the warts may heal within 3 – 4 weeks. On the other hand, the beam of light from a pulse laser kills the hemoglobin, (oxygen carriers in blood) circulating within the blood vessels of the warts. This deprives the warts of essential oxygen, plus the heat generated from the pulse dye laser also stops the blood flow to the warts. As a result, the cells within the warts become dead and they eventually fall off. In both these types of laser treatments, there is a possibility of scarring, but the chances are less in case of pulsed dye laser.
Can oral warts go away on their own? There have been reports of warts healing without any treatment, but it may take quite a few months before the affected area becomes free from these unwanted skin problems. Although they are classified as benign tumors, they may become cancerous over time. Therefore, one should not ignore these warts and take the necessary treatment at the earliest.