Warts are small rough lumps or growths on your skin. They are known as verrucas when they are on your feet.
Warts are very common and are usually harmless.
Warts can be rounded or flat and appear as a single wart or in cluster. Some can be itchy or painful.
They can appear on different parts of your body.
They are caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Warts usually go away without treatment, but treatments are available if they are painful, spreading or you don’t like they way they look.
What are the different types of warts?
There are different types of warts. These look different and appear on different parts of your body.
Common types of warts include:
1-Common warts are usually found on the backs of your fingers or toes, around your nails and on your knees. They sometimes look like a tiny cauliflower.
2-Verrucas or plantar warts are found on the soles of your feet. They grow into your foot and can be quite painful when you stand or walk.
3-Plane warts have a flat surface. They are often found in clusters and tend to appear in a line. They are most commonly found on your face, hands and shins.
4-Filiform warts are on a long stalk like a finger or thread. They commonly appear on your face.
What causes warts?
Warts are caused by different strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). The strains of HPV that cause harmless warts on your hands, legs or feet are different to those that cause genital warts and cervical cancer.
Warts happen when HPV virus infects the top layer of your skin and causes your skin cells to grow very fast. Sometimes just one or two warts develop on your skin. They may also grow in a cluster of several warts in the same area.
How are warts diagnosed?
Warts can be diagnosed by just looking at your skin and feeling it. Tests are not usually needed. Occasionally a sample of your skin may be taken for testing if your doctor your doctor is concerned about another cause for your symptoms.
How are warts treated?
Warts are usually harmless and go away without treatment but it may take months or years. For example, in children, half of warts disappear without treatment within 6 months, and 90% (9 in 10) are gone within 2 years. If your warts don’t cause any problems, you don’t need to treat them.
Some of the treatments used to treat warts include:
-Topical paints or gels Topical treatment includes wart paints, pastes, or patches containing salicylic acid, podophyllin, or similar compounds, which work by removing the surface skin cells
-Cryotherapy or freezing treatment
This is when liquid nitrogen is sprayed or applied to the wart. Liquid nitrogen is very cold and the freezing and thawing destroys the wart. It is normally repeated every 2–3 weeks.
About 70% (7 out of every 10) of warts improve after 3–4 months of regular freezing.
– Electrosurgery:Electrosurgery (curettage and cautery) has been used for large and resistant warts. Under local anaesthetic, the growth is pared away and the base burned.
-Laser vaporisation treatment may be helpful. These treatments are usually done by specialists and only if other options have failed.
How can I prevent warts?
Warts are not very contagious, but they can be spread by close contact with someone who has them. The HPV virus can also be passed on to someone else by touching shared objects or surfaces, such as the area surrounding a swimming pool or shower, towels, razors or other personal items. If you already have warts they can spread by scratching or touching the wart and then touching a different body area.
Anal warts are believed to be caused by the human papilloma virus, which is relatively contagious. The virus can be transmitted from person to person, almost always by direct contact.
Do these warts always need to be removed?
Yes. If they are not removed, the warts generally grow larger and become more and more numerous. In addition, there is evidence that these warts can become cancerous if left untreated for a long time.
What treatments are available
The major form of treatment involves more rapid destruction of the warts by freezing using a cryosurgery technique.
Warts inside the anal canal usually are suitable for treatment by cryosurgery.
Will a single treatment cure the problem?
Not in most cases, unfortunately. Even with cryosurgery and surgical treatments that immediately destroy existing warts, many patients develop new warts after treatment. This occurs because the viruses that cause the warts can live under the surface of the skin, allowing the skin to appear normal for up to six months or longer before another wart develops.
As new warts develop, they usually can be treated in the dermatologists’ office, using the cryosurgery procedure as new warts become smaller and less numerous.
Sometimes new warts develop so rapidly that office treatment would be quite uncomfortable if all were removed at the same time. In these situations, a second, and occasionally third outpatient surgical visit may be recommended.
Is treatment usually continued?
Follow-up visits are necessary for some months after the last wart is observed to be certain that no more warts occur from viruses living in the cells of skin.