Warts are a non-cancerous-common skin condition that occur when a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) infects the surface layer of the skin. In most cases, they have a roughened surface and a clearly defined boundary. They most commonly occur on the fingers, hands, and arms, but can appear almost anywhere. Those occuring on the bottom of the feet are called plantar, and those that occur in the genital area are called genital.
They are usually painless. However, when they occur in an area that causes them to be subjected to pressure or rubbing, such as the bottom of the foot, they can become extremely tender. Genital warts that occur on the cervix are associated with a significantly increased risk of cervical dysplasia.
Warts may disappear on their own with time. However, most people want them gone as soon as possible. The skincare experts at MetroDerm, P.C. can diagnose and remove unsightly warts quickly and painlessly. Here is some information on the risks, causes, and types.
Causes of Warts
Warts are caused by various strains of HPV. This virus is highly contagious and is spread by contact. Handshakes and other forms of physical contact as well as sharing personal items such as razors and towels, can spread them quite easily. You can even spread them from one part of your body to another by touching the wart. All this being said, they do not automatically spread every time there is contact.
- HPV tends to spread through breaks in the skin.
- Nail biting is frequently cited as a cause the problem.
- Children and young adults are far more likely to develop them.
- People with weakened immune systems are at increased risk.
There are many distinct strains of HPV, but the most frequently occurring types of warts are common, plantar, and flat.
- Common Warts typically look and feel like rough bumps. Occasional they have small black dots that look like seeds. These most frequently occur on the fingers and hands, often in close proximity to a cut or a hangnail.
- Plantar Warts occur on the soles of the feet and are more bothersome than common ones. They cause discomfort when walking and sometimes grow in clusters.
- Flat Warts are small, smooth, and painless, these can grow anywhere on the body. They are also prone to growing in clusters.
Conventional treatment for warts involves a variety of methods to directly remove them. Over-the-counter topical treatments containing salicylic acid gradually dissolve the wart but may take many weeks to work. Do not use these products on genital warts. Podophyllin, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and cantharidin are other substances that may be applied to a wart to remove it and which may be more effective, but they are generally only applied by a physician in an office setting. Other methods of wart-removal include freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), burning the wart, removing it with a laser, or cutting it out.
Each patient is unique; therefore, results of treatment may vary.
If you are embarrassed by warts, please visit one of our three locations in the metro Atlanta, GA, area. One of our dermatologists can evaluate your condition and recommend a treatment plan. MetroDerm, P.C. serves patients from many cities including Cumming, Gainsville, Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, and Buckhead.