Although warts are generally harmless, they can change a person’s appearance, and if they grow on a spot where there is usually a lot of pressure, they can also cause pain and discomfort.
What are warts?
Warts are skin-colored lesions that can either be flat and smooth or rough and dark. They are non-cancerous manifestations of a virus, one of the strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), often caused by damage to the skin or contact with a skin infected by the virus. Isn’t HPV a sexually-transmitted disease? Not necessarily, because there are over a hundred types of HPV including the one that causes warts.
Like all viruses, however, warts can be contagious, which means that you could also infect yourself by touching the warts and then touching another part of the body. It can also be spread from person to person or through objects that had contact with the warts, such as towels and clothes.
There are types of warts depending on where they are found on the body and their appearance. These include the common warts or Vurruca vulgaris, foot warts or plantar warts, flat warts, and filiform warts.
• Common warts are often found on the hands, specifically on the back of the hands, fingers, and around the nails, although they can also be found on the face after the hands get in contact with uninfected skin. They also have black dots called seeds on them.
• Foot warts are found on the foot and grow on the soles and in cluster. Dermatologists recommend that they be removed because they can be painful.
• Flat warts are usually smooth and small, but they grow in multiple numbers on any part of the body.
• Filiform warts grow fast around the face and hands. They have a characteristic finger-like appearance from which they got their name.
What are the treatments?
Anyone can have warts, but some people are more prone to the virus because of a weakened immune system. They are also common among people who often injure their skin, because it creates an opportunity for the virus to enter the body. Fortunately, they usually go away after a while if the body can minimize the symptoms, but warts should be removed if they hurt or if their appearance bothers the person.
Before the warts can be removed, the dermatologist needs to make sure that it is not caused by other diseases, that is why a biopsy is sometimes necessary. The following are the most common procedures:
• Excision or the cutting out of the warts
• Use of cantharidin by painting a solution to cause the warts to blister and die.
• Cryotherapy or the freezing of the warts
• Electrosurgery and curettage combination where the wart is burned and then scraped off
• Chemical peels are used for flat warts
• Laser treatment is used if the wart is not removed by other means
• Use of an anti-cancer medicine called bleomycin
• Immunotherapy to help the patient’s body fight off the virus.