warts

Warts are small, usually painless growths on the skin caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). They are generally harmless. However, warts can be disfiguring and embarrassing, and occasionally they itch or hurt (particularly on the feet).

Different types of Warts

The different types of warts include:

  • Common warts usually appear on the hands, but can appear anywhere.
  • Flat warts are generally found on the face and forehead. They are common in children, less common in teens, and rare in adults.
  • Genital warts are usually found on the genitals, in the pubic area, and in the area between the thighs, but they can also appear inside the vagina and anal canal.
  • Plantar warts are found on the soles of the feet.
  • Subungual and periungual warts appear under and around the fingernails or toenails.

Common warts tend to cause no discomfort unless they are in areas of repeated friction or pressure. Plantar warts, for example, can become extremely painful. Large numbers of plantar warts on the foot may cause difficulty walking or running.

Some warts will disappear without treatment, although it can sometimes take a couple of years. Treated or not, warts that go away often reappear. All warts can spread from one part of your own body to another.

Unsightly or painful warts can be treated. Warts around and under your nails are much more difficult to cure than warts in other places.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Abnormally dark or light skin surrounding the lesion.
  • Numerous small, smooth, flat (pinhead sized) lesions on forehead, cheeks, arms, or legs.
  • Rough growths around or under fingernails or toenails.
  • Rough, round, or oval lesions on soles of feet -- flat to slightly raised -- painful to pressure.
  • Small, hard, flat or raised skin lesion or lump.

Treatments

Over-the-counter medications can remove warts. These are applied to the wart every day for several weeks. Do NOT use these medications on your face or genitals. It helps to file the wart down when damp (for example, after a bath or shower) before applying these medications. Do NOT treat warts on your face or genitals yourself. See your health care provider.

Dr. Tomi may use stronger (prescription) medications, such as salicylic acid, for removal of persistent warts. Surgical removal or removal by freezing (cryotherapy), burning (electrocautery), or laser treatment may be needed.

A vaccine called Gardasil prevents infection against the strains of viruses that often cause genital warts and cervical cancer in women.

Do NOT attempt to remove a wart yourself by burning, cutting, tearing, picking, or any other method.

Prevention

  • Avoid direct skin contact with a wart on someone else.
  • After filing your wart, wash the file carefully to prevent spreading the virus to other parts of your body.
  • After touching any of your warts, wash your hands carefully.

Contacting Dermatologist

Call for an appointment with Dr. Tomi if:

  • There are signs of infection (red streaking, pus, discharge, or fever) or bleeding. Warts can bleed a little, but if bleeding is significant or not easily stopped by light pressure, call your doctor.
  • The wart does not respond to self-care and you want it removed.
  • You have pain associated with the wart.
  • You have anal or genital warts.
  • You have diabetes or a weakened immune system (for example, HIV) and have developed warts.
  • There is any change in the color or appearance of the wart.

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