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Warts: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Dr. Pradeep Aggarwal    03-11-2016 Consult

Warts are skin  growths that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 60 kinds of HPV, some of which tend to cause warts on the skin. HPV stimulates quick growth of cells on the skin's outer layer. In most cases, common warts appear on the fingers, near the fingernails, or on the hands. 

Causes:
Viruses called human papillomavirus (HPV) cause warts. It is easier to catch a virus that causes warts when you have a cut or scrape on your skin. This explains why so many children get warts. Warts also are more common on parts of the body that people shave such as the beard area in men and the legs in women. You can spread warts from one place on your body to another. Warts can spread from person to person. You can get warts from touching a wart on someone's body. Some people get a wart after touching something that another person's wart touched, such as a towel. It often takes a few months for warts to grow large enough to see.

Some people are more prone to getting a wart virus (HPV) than others. These people are:
  1. Children and teens.
  2. People who bite their nails or pick at hangnails.
  3. People with a weakened immune system (the body's defense system).
In children, warts often go away without treatment. A dermatologist should treat warts that hurt, bother the child, or quickly multiply.

Symptoms:
Most warts are raised and have a rough surface. They may be round or oval. The spot where the wart is may be lighter or darker than your skin. Rarely, warts are black. Some warts have smooth or flat surfaces. Some warts may cause pain.

Types:
Different types of warts include:
  1. Common warts often appear on the hands, but they can grow anywhere. Flat warts are generally found on the face and forehead. They are common in children. They are less common in teens, and rare in adults.
  2. Genital Warts (Condyloma) usually appear on the genitals, in the pubic area, and in the area between the thighs. They can also appear inside the vagina and anal canal.
  3. Plantar warts found on the soles of the feet. They can be very painful. Having many of them on your feet may cause problems walking or running.
  4. Subungual and Periungual warts appear under and around the fingernails or toenails.

How Are Warts Treated?
In most cases, warts found on the skin are harmless and can disappear without treatment. However, genital warts should be evaluated by a doctor. Sometimes, warts may recur after treatment and more than one type of treatment may be necessary. Although practitioners attempt to clear warts quickly, most methods require multiple treatments. Treatments may include:

  1. Freezing: In this treatment, a doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze a wart. A blister forms around the wart and the dead tissue falls off within about a week.
  2. Cantharidin: This substance, an extract of a blister beetle and applied to the skin, forms a blister around the wart. After cantharidin is applied, the area is covered with a bandage. The blister lifts the wart off the skin so the doctor can remove the dead portion of the wart.
  3. Other medications: These include bleomycin, which is injected into a wart to kill a virus, and Aldara, an immunotherapy drug that comes in the form of a prescription cream. Although Aldara is stated for genital warts, it is modestly effective on other types of warts.
  4. Minor surgery: When warts cannot be removed by other therapies, surgery may be used to cut away the wart. The base of the wart will be destroyed using an electric needle or by cryosurgery (deep freezing).
  5. Laser surgery: This procedure utilizes an intense beam of light (laser) to burn and destroy wart tissue.
Consult a Dermatologist for skin problems. A specialist's experienced advise is all that's required.

 

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