Having warts may not cause serious damage on one’s health, but most of the time it could be itchy, painful, and even embarrassing for people who have it. Our dermatology clinic in Honolulu, HI houses a team of experts, led by Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu, who specialize in the treatment of skin disorders such as warts.
What are warts?
Warts appear as small skin growths commonly found on the hands or fingers. They are rough to touch and are often characterized a pattern of little black which are actually tiny, clotted blood vessels.
What causes warts?
A virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV) is responsible for the appearance of warts in the body. Usually, the virus enters the body through the surface of a broken skin and eventually infects the top layer. This causes the skin’s top layer to form new skin cells and grow rapidly, thus forming a wart. They often grow on the hands and the soles of the feet, but warts could also possibly grow in different areas of the body.
What are the symptoms of warts?
Most of the time, warts are raised and feel rough to the touch. They can also be round or oval-shaped. You may also notice that:
- The area of the skin where the wart is located may appear lighter or darker than the rest of the skin. There are rare times that they appear black.
- Sometimes, warts come in smooth surfaces and are not raised.
- Warts could sometimes cause pain.
What are the different types of warts?
Warts may appear in different forms. Including:
- Common warts. They usually appear on the hands but could also possibly grow anywhere in the body.
- Flat warts. They more commonly affect children and appear on the face.
- Genital warts. Also known as condyloma, they grow on the genitals or anywhere in the pubic area or the space between the thighs. In other cases, they could grow inside the vagina or around the anal canal.
- Plantar warts. They are found on the soles of the feet and could cause pain, especially when engaging in activities such as walking or running.
- Periungual and subungual warts. These are the warts found around or under the fingernails and toenails.
How is warts transmitted?
With direct contact to the HPV virus, warts can be spread over the body. You may infect different areas of your body by touching a wart and then touching a non-affected area in your body. Other people could also get warts by sharing towels, razors, and other personal items with people who has this condition. Even after you have had direct contact with the virus, it may take several months for the wart to grow beneath your skin. However, not all people who come in contact with HPV get warts.
How are warts diagnosed?
Your dermatologist will be able to confirm the presence of warts when you undergo a physical examination. If it is not certain whether the growth is a wart, a skin biopsy may also be possible, especially if the growth is noticeably darker than its surrounding skin, is bleeding, or is manifesting rapid growth. A skin biopsy involves taking a sample specimen of the growth and looking at it under a microscope.
How are warts treated?
In most cases, warts may be left alone and do not need treatment. However, some patients may experience pain or notice an unusual spreading of the warts; others may just be bothered by how it looks on their skin. In these cases, the the following options are available:
- Home treatments can be obtained without a prescription, such as duct tape or salicylic acid
- Applying stronger medicine on the wart can be done in the doctor’s office.
- Cryotherapy can be done. This is a procedure which involves freezing the wart.
- Different surgeries can remove the wart, such as curettage, electrosurgery, or laser surgery.
- Injections of different medications into the wart can be done.
- Medicated creams or ointments for home use can be prescribed.
The use of these treatments may remove the wart, but there is no guarantee that it will never come back. The treatment options can destroy the wart but may not destroy the virus itself.