Warts are rough, dark skin growths that appear on the surface of the skin. They appear due to a viral infection to the outer layer of the skin. Specifically, warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
The most common cause of a wart is an untreated cut or lesion to the skin. They are contagious, unsightly growths that can cause pain if not treated properly.
As mentioned, warts are caused by the HPV virus. This virus can be caught through open wounds and small scrapes on the surface of the skin.
Due to the viral nature of the condition, it is easily spread from person to person, and it can even spread to multiple points of infection on your body.
Warts are difficult to detect due to it taking up to three months for them to appear on the surface of the skin. You can lower your risk of getting warts by cleaning and treating any cuts or scrapes you may get, as well as maintaining good daily hygiene, especially of the feet, hands, and face.
A very common occurrence, warts can affect anyone. The people who are at the greatest risk for developing a wart are:
- Children and teens
- People who bite their nails
- Those with weakened immune systems
Warts often heal on their own in children, but if they persist or cause any pain, contact a foot specialist immediately.
Types of Warts
Different types of warts are identified by their location on the body as well as from their general appearance. Some common types of warts include:
- Plantar Warts
These warts grow on the soles of the feet. They can grow either individually or as clusters, and can cause the sensation of stepping on pebbles in your shoe. These type of warts are harder to treat than others.
- Common Warts
Common warts are normally found either around the hands, nails, and fingers. They are caused by broken skin through picking or minor injury, and are the most contagious form of wart. These should be taken care of quickly to stop it from spreading to the face through touch and eating.
- Flat Warts
The most common type of wart, flat warts can appear on men’s faces, women’s legs, and children’s hands. This is due to the fact that they are found in areas that are regularly shaved. If not cleaned properly, these areas can be very prone to wart infection and cause pain and discomfort, as they tend to grow in large numbers.
Warts can be very uncomfortable, causing unwanted pressure and pain in the areas they affect. And, depending on this area, can be prone to causing further infection and transmission across different parts of the body. The most common symptoms reported include:
- Pain upon pressure to the wart
- Black dots on affected area
- Rough / dry skin
Not all warts will cause pain, some will just be smooth to the touch and be free of any sensation to the affected area, unless punctured. If you feel like you have developed warts and they do not appear to be healing, consult a specialist to reduce the chance of it getting worse.
Treatment for Warts
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Normally, warts resolve themselves without any treatment, especially in children.
In adults, warts may persist. While they may be harmless in most cases, dermatologists will normally remove them. If left untreated, they could develop further and begin to cause pain and decreased circulation to the affected area.
A dermatologist may use one of the following treatments:
- Cantharidin: A dermatologist may treat a wart by “painting” it with cantharidin. Cantharidin causes a blister to form under the wart, allowing the doctor to easily remove the entire wart.
- Cryotherapy: Used on common warts in adults and older children, cryotherapy (freezing) is the most common approach. This treatment is not painful and can completely remove warts in just a few visits.
- Electrosurgery and curettage: Electrosurgery (burning) is a good treatment for common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. Curettage involves scraping off the wart with a sharp knife or small tool. Often, these two procedures are done together.
- Excision: The doctor may simply cut out the wart.
Warts are bothersome growths that can affect anyone at any time with no warning. While they do not pose any serious risk in most cases it is best to be safe and consult a specialist to ensure proper treatment and maintenance, and also to ensure that the affected area does not continue to spread through you and your family.