A wart is a small, fleshy and painless growth on the skin. Warts may grow anywhere on the body and are rough to touch. Warts usually disappear in children. However, adults may have multiple warts which may be painful and do not resolve without treatment. Warts can be removed by chemical skin treatments, surgery or laser therapy.
Types of Warts
The various types of warts are classified based on the affected site:
- Common Warts: These usually grow on fingers and toes, but may appear elsewhere too. They have a rounded top with grainy and rough appearance.
- Plantar Warts: These warts grow on the sole of the feet. They grow into the skin, and not out of it. Plantar warts can make walking uncomfortable.
- Flat Warts: These warts grow on face, neck, wrist, and hands. They are usually smooth and flat and not noticeable immediately.
- Genital Warts: These warts grow in or around the genital and rectal areas. They may cause cervical cancer in females.
- Periungual Warts:These warts grow under and around the toenails or fingernails. These can be painful and may affect the nail growth.
- Filiform Warts:These warts grow around mouth, nose, cheeks or under the chin.
Signs and Symptoms
The following are the signs and symptoms of warts:
- Warts are flesh-colored or pink.
- Warts may be oval or round.
- Warts have rough or smooth surfaces.
- Warts may be painful.
Warts are caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus affects the top layer of the skin and enters the body through the damaged skin. They are transmitted by direct or indirect contact.
The factors that increase the likelihood of developing warts include:
- Having poor immune function
- Walking barefoot in public showers and swimming pools
- Sharing personal things like razors and towels with an infected person
- Wearing tight shoes that lead to sweaty feet
The following are the complications associated with warts:
- Genital warts in females may lead to cervical cancer.
- Warts if left untreated, may become cancerous.
- Scarring on the affected site.
Dermatologist may identify the wart by simply looking at it. In some cases, the upper layer of the warts can be excised and studied. Presence of interrupted skin lines and black spots (thrombosed capillaries) indicate that the growth is a wart.
A skin biopsy test may be recommended by the dermatologist if he suspects skin cancer.
Most warts do not need treatment as they may disappear on their own. The main aim of treatment is to remove the wart without any scar on the skin. Treating warts may be painful. The treatment choices include:
- Salicylic Acid: This chemical treat warts by softening the wart cells and dissolving them. This chemical is not used on face or moles and birthmarks.
- Duct Tape: It is an inexpensive method of treating a wart. The tape is placed over the wart and removed after six days. After this the wart should be rubbed with pumice stone. This process if repeated may cause removal of warts.
- Cryotherapy: Liquid nitrogen freezes the warts and removes them. It is most common way to remove the warts.
- Medications:Medicines such as retinoid cream and imiquimod are used to treat warts. The retinoid cream helps treat warts by disrupting the cell growth of the wart. Imiquimod stimulates the immune system to fight against the abnormal wart cells.
- Surgery: Electrosurgery and laser treatment is used to treat warts. Electrosurgery is a procedure in which an electric energy is used to burnt and dry to remove the wart tissue. Laser therapy is used to burn and destroy the wart tissue. Local anesthesia is used in both the therapies.
The following are the measures to prevent warts from spreading:
- Avoid direct contact with warts
- Cover warts with a bandage
- Wash hands regularly
- Don’t pick warts