In this article we will look at:
- What are warts?
- How do warts occur?
- Who is prone to warts?
- What are the causes of warts?
- What are the symptoms of warts? How are warts diagnosed?
- What are the complications of warts?
- What is the treatment for warts?
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What are warts?
A wart is a small growth which is flesh-colored, tan, pink, or white and feels like a grainy bump on the skin. It is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV can spread from person to person by direct contact or through contact with an object that was used by a person affected by the virus. Warts can spread across the body of a person.
How do warts occur?
Warts occur when the HPV virus comes in contact with your skin and causes an infection. It is especially easy for the virus to enter your body if there is broken skin anywhere, such as picked hangnails or areas nicked by shaving. Once the virus enters the top layer of skin through scratches or cuts the infection starts.
There are different types of warts—depending on how they look and which parts of the body they appear in:
- Common warts: which most often occur on the hands, and are rough, dome-shaped, and gray-brown.
- Plantar warts: which grow on the soles of the feet and are hard and thick with dark specks. They can be painful when you walk.
- Flat warts: which can grow on the face, arms, and legs. They’re small, have flat tops, and may be light yellow, brown, or pink.
- Filiform warts: which can grow on the face, usually around the mouth, nose, or chin. They are the same colour as the skin, but they have thread-like growths sticking out of them.
- Periungual warts: which occur under and around the fingernails and toenails.
Warts usually go away on their own, but sometimes they can be stubborn and stick around for a long time.
Who is prone to warts?
Apart from children, teenagers and people with a weakened immune system, there are certain things people do, which can make them prone to warts such as:
- Biting nails
- Grooming areas with warts such as, brushing or combing, and then touching other parts of the body
- Sharing tools with people who are affected by warts, such as combs, files, pumice stones. Even if you use the tools, for instance, the pumice stone to rub the warts on one part of your body and then use it on another part of your body, chances are the warts will spread to that part.
- Picking on warts, which will only help the virus to spread more.
What are the causes of warts?
If you have any type of skin wart, it means that you came in contact with a wart-causing virus sometime in the past, though it could have been months ago.
What are the symptoms of warts? How are warts diagnosed?
The warts are small pulpy grainy growths or bumps on the skin. They are flesh-coloured, tan, pink, or white coloured.
A general physician can easily diagnose a wart by:
- examining the wart
- gently scraping off the uppermost layer of the wart to check for signs of clotted blood vessels, which appear as dark, pinpoint dots that is common with warts
- removing part of the wart and sending it for biopsy to rule out any other skin condition
What are the complications of warts?
The complications of warts include:
- pain and irritation
- malignant changes
- poor self-confidence since it affects the appearance
- cervical and other cancers
What is the treatment for warts?
Usually, for warts doctors prescribe some topical applications. However, if the condition is severe then the doctor may suggest these techniques:
Freezing: Liquid nitrogen is used to destroy the wart
Laser therapy: to destroy the wart
Heat treatment: such as electrocautery or loop electrosurgical excision procedures.
Surgery: where the wart is cut off surgically which may leave a scar.
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