Dermatology, Genito-Urinary Medicine

Warts (viral)

Introduction to Warts (viral)

Warts are smallish lumps that can develop anywhere on the body but are mostly found on the skin of hands and feet.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What are Warts?

Warts are smallish lumps that can develop anywhere on the body but are mostly found on the skin of hands and feet. They can vary in appearance and can develop as a single wart or in clusters. The warts themselves are not cancerous, but can resemble some cancers.

Warts are not considerably contagious, but can be caught through close skin to skin contact. The infection can also spread from contaminated surfaces, for example, the area around a swimming pool. However, genital warts are contagious.

What causes Warts?

Warts are generally caused by exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are over 100 different strains of HPV virus, which lead to different types of warts. The virus is passed through close skin to skin contact. Warts are thought to be contagious as long as they are present on your body. You can also spread them to other parts of your body if you scratch or bite a wart, or shave an area where there are warts.

What are the symptoms of Warts?

Warts in general are not painful, but some types like verucas can itch or bleed. They usually develop on the soles of feet and you will find that they are often white with a black dot in the centre. They are also flat, and can be painful if they are on the part of the foot that carries the weight. Common warts are usually oval shaped, firm and raised, rough in surface and often develop in knuckles. Their size usually varies from 1mm to 1cm. Planar warts however, develop in clusters and you can have between one and several hundred. They are usually yellow in colour, sound and smooth with a flat top, and 2-4mm in diameter.

How are Warts treated?

Warts usually clear up on their own, however it can take up to two years for the virus to completely leave your body. This time depends on the age of the affected person, as well as how strong their immune system is. Other methods include the use of salicylic acid, cryotherapy and duct tape to remove the wart without leaving a scar. However, none are 100% effective as the wart may return.

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