Warts are benign (non-cancerous) growths that appear on the skin caused by different forms of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Since they are due to a virus, they occur in people of all ages and can spread from person-to-person and from one part of the body to another. Most often, they appear on the hands and feet, and come in a variety of forms, sometimes flat and smooth, but other times cauliflower-like in appearance.
The location of a wart often characterizes its type:
Common warts can appear anywhere on the body, although they most often appear on the back of fingers, toes and knees. These skin-colored, dome-shaped lesions usually grow where the skin has been broken, such as a scratch or bug bite. They can range in size from a pinhead to 10mm and may appear singly or in multiples.
Filiform warts look like a long, narrow, flesh-colored stalk that appears singly or in multiples around the eyelids, face, neck or lips. These warts are often referred to as “facial warts.” They may cause itching or bleeding, but are easy to treat with over-the-counter medications.
Flat (plane) warts appear on the face, and are most common in children and teenagers. They are flesh-colored or white, with a slightly raised, flat surface and they usually appear in multiples.
Genital warts appear around the genital and pubic areas., inside the vagina, anal canal, and mouth (known as oral warts). The lesions first appear as small, soft warts which often develop in clusters, but can enlarge. They are sexually transmitted and highly contagious. You should avoid sexual activity with anyone who has visible genital warts, and should seek treatment immediately if you develop these.
Plantar warts appear on the soles of the feet. They have a rough, cauliflower-like appearance, and often have a small black speck in them. They can develop in clusters, and can greow into a larger wart called a “mosaic wart.” Plantar warts can spread quickly, so seek medical attention if you have one.
Subungual and periungual warts appear as rough growths around the fingernails and/or toenails. They start as nearly undetectable, pin-sized lesions and grow to pea-sized with rough, irregular bumps with uneven borders. Subungual and periungual warts can impede healthy nail growth. Because of their location, they are difficult to treat and generally require medical attention.
SKIN Cosmetic Dermatology has many treatment options for warts. Please call and make an appointment for a consultation. Some of the treatments available for warts are as follows:
- Cryotherapy, which freezes off the wart using liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide.
- Electrosurgery, which sends an electric current through the wart to kill the tissue.
- Laser surgery, which essentially heat up the wart until the tissue dies and the wart eventually falls off.
- Nonprescription freezing products (dimethyl ether), aerosol sprays that freeze the warts and cause them to die off.
- Salicylic acid preparations, which dissolve the protein (keratin) that makes up the wart and the thick layer of skin that covers it. It comes in gels, pads, drops and plasters and takes 4 to 6 weeks to eradicate the warts.