Types Of Warts
Warts frequently appear on the hands and feet, varying in appearance from flat and smooth to dome-shaped and cauliflower-like. The skin surrounding a wart may be lighter or darker in color. Caused by different forms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), warts occur in people of all ages and are contagious upon contact. Warts are benign (noncancerous) and generally painless. They may disappear without any treatment, yet most warts take time to eliminate. The location of a wart often characterizes its type. There are six common wart types, including common warts, plantar warts, genital warts, flat warts, filiform warts, and subungual and periungual warts.
A common wart is usually easy to identify and differentiate from other wart types. They typically appear on the hands or fingers, though they may likewise appear in any non-genital area of the body, including the knees, ankles, arms, and legs. Common warts are generally characterized by small, raised skin growths with an oval or round shape. They are rough to the touch, hard around its edges and softer at the center, and speckled with small black "seeds" or dots (small blood vessels). Common warts may appear as an individual wart or in a group of multiple warts.
A plantar wart is a small growth that typically develops on the soles, heels, or other weight-bearing areas of the feet. The pressure put on the feet may likewise cause plantar warts to grow inward beneath a callus (thick, hardened layer of skin). Due to their location, plantar warts may cause pain around the area of growth. Rough and cauliflower-like in appearance, these warts may have a small black speck in them and can spread rapidly. Plantar warts usually appear in multiples and may combine into a larger wart called a mosaic wart.
Genital warts are among the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Nearly every sexually active person will become infected with one or more types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts, at some point in life. A genital wart affects areas around moist tissues of the genital and public areas, but they may also develop in the vagina, anal canal, and inside of the mouth (oral warts). They look like small, flesh-colored bumps or have a cauliflower-like appearance. In many cases, they can be too small to see.
Flat warts are smooth, flat-topped, flesh- or brown-yellow-colored bumps the size of a pinhead. A flat wart may grow on the face, back of the hands, or legs. Flat warts usually appear in large numbers at a time. Flat warts are commonly found in young adults and, as such, they are also called juvenile warts. Warts are flesh-colored or white with a raised, flat surface, and they may appear in multiples. The virus that causes flat warts is contagious, but benign. Flat warts may be unsightly to those who have them, but they are not painful for most patients.
A filiform wart looks different from most other warts. These warts have long, narrow projections that protrude approximately 1-2 millimeters from the skin. Filiform warts can be yellow, brown, pink, or skin-toned, and they generally appear as an individual growth, not clusters of multiples. Filiform warts are also known as facial warts, as they commonly form around the eyelids and lips, as well as the neck. While these warts are not cancerous, they can cause discomfort. Bleeding and itching may occur, but filiform warts are easy to treat with certain medications.
Periungual warts form around the fingernails and toenails. They first appear small (about the size of a pinhead) and slowly grow into rough, discolored bumps that resemble cauliflower. A periungual wart may be undetectable when it first develops, but as it becomes larger, it may become unsightly with uneven borders and texture. Periungual warts commonly affect children and young adults, especially if they bite their nails. These warts are difficult to treat, but treatment is more likely to produce favorable results if started early on.
What Causes Warts?
Among the different types of warts causes, there is one main cause. Warts are a type of skin infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a highly contagious virus that can transfer by touching someone who has them. When HPV enters a cut in the skin, it causes a skin infection that forms warts. Warts are incredibly contagious. The virus can spread from person to person from different parts of the body, including the following.
- Direct contact with a wart
- Touching something contaminated with HPV (towels, shower floors, or doorknobs)
- Sexual intercourse and related activities (genital warts)
- Picking at cuticles or biting nails
- Shaving or using a razor
How To Identify A Wart
Some types of warts are more difficult to identify than others. Warts vary in appearance. They may look dome-shaped or flat, rough or smooth in texture, and skin-colored, brown, grey, or black in color. Your Boardman dermatologist can diagnose warts simply by observing the bumps. In some cases, our dermatologists may take a sample (biopsy) of the skin growth to test it for HPV. To perform a biopsy, the top layer of a wart is scraped off and sent to a laboratory for testing. This is a straightforward and minimally invasive procedure. For more information about warts diagnosis, skin biopsy, and other information regarding treatment, contact Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center.
How To Get Rid Of Warts
These dermatologist-supervised warts treatments are usually effective for eradicating warts. For certain warts, over-the-counter treatments may likewise be effective. If self-treatments don't work after a period of about 4-12 weeks, however, contact Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center. We'll assess your warts and recommend the best treatment option. Always contact your dermatologist if a wart is causing pain, changes in color or appearance, and/or is any type of genital wart.
During freezing treatments for warts, or cryotherapy, your dermatologist applies liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. After the wart is frozen, a blister forms on the skin. Over time, the blister and wart both peel off the skin. Cryotherapy may require multiple sessions in order to achieve complete wart removal. Contact us today to learn more.
For stubborn warts and those resistant to traditional treatments, immunotherapy may help. Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight the virus that causes warts. This process involves applying a topical chemical, such as diphencyprone (DCP), which elicits a mild allergic reaction that causes the wart to go away.
During laser treatments for warts, a laser light is used to heat and destroy tiny blood vessels located inside of the wart. This treatment cuts off the blood supply of the growth, killing the wart. Laser treatments may be beneficial for warts resistant to other, more common types of treatments. Contact us to learn more about laser treatments.
Your dermatologist may apply a liquid mixture containing chemicals such as cantharidin. This medication causes a blister to form under the wart and cuts off its blood supply. After receiving this type of treatment, you must return for a secondary appointment (about a week later) to have the dead wart removed from your skin.
Over-The-Counter Wart Treatments
At-home wart removal is performed with various over-the-counter (OTC) wart removal medications, which contain salicylic acid. This chemical dissolves warts layer by layer. These products are available in gel, liquid, and patch forms. Those using OTC wart treatments may need to apply the medication for several months to eradicate the wart completely.