The skin is a vital organ in the human body, protecting it from physical damage, keeping the body insulated from the environment, and aiding with communication. Unfortunately, it is vulnerable to a wide variety of ailments and conditions, from sunburns to warts. Warts are skin growths that can often be mistaken for other skin issues and are caused by certain viruses. In this article, we will discuss the various types of warts as well as their possible causes and treatments.
1. What Are Warts?
Warts are small, typically painless growths on the skin. They are caused by viruses from the family of human papillomavirus (HPV). Most warts are harmless and do not require treatment. There are different types of warts, each of which have their own distinct appearance and location.
The 3 most common types of warts are:
- Common warts: often found on the hands and feet, common warts are small, dome-shaped protrusions with a rough texture.
- Flat warts: these are small and roughly the same size, with a slightly raised, flat surface. They often appear in clusters, and most often affect children and young adults.
- Filiform warts: these are long, thin projections that typically appear on the neck, face, and eyelids.
In some cases, warts may require treatment, including surgical removal. The most effective treatments available to remove warts depend on their size, location, and type. Some common treatments include chemicals, freezing, laser therapy, and specialized medicines.
2. Types of Warts
A wart is a non-cancerous growth caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts come in various shapes, sizes, and types. Generally, there are five different categories of warts:
- Common warts
- Flat warts
- Filiform warts
- Plantar warts
- Periungual warts
Common Warts are the most common type, easily recognizable by its spiky, dome-shaped appearance. They usually appear on the hands, but they can appear on the face, elbows, and other parts of the body. Common warts are benign and rarely painful.
Flat Warts are generally smooth and flat-topped, common on the face and hands. While they are often asymptomatic, some flat warts are associated with itching and burning. On the face, they are usually found in clusters.
Filiform Warts are thread-like in appearance, often with the same color as the surrounding skin. They can occur anywhere on the body but are more commonly found on the face and neck, typically around the eyes, mouth and nose. This type of wart is often more susceptible to irritation than other types.
3. Causes of Warts
Warts are growths in the skin caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV. There are many varieties of HPV that can cause warts, but only a few strains can cause warts on the hands, feet, and face.
Types of Warts:
- Common warts. These warts are usually found on the hands and feet and have a rough, bumpy texture.
- Flat warts. These warts are smaller than common warts and have a flat surface. They often have a yellow, tan, or light brown color.
- Plantar warts. These warts are found on the feet and are usually painful when pressure is applied to them.
- Genital warts. These warts are usually found on the genitals or around the anus.
Risk Factors for Warts
Some factors may increase the risk of getting warts, such as:
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Sharing personal items, such as razors, towels, or swimming pools.
- Having a skin injury or cut in an area of the body where a wart could develop.
- Having direct contact with someone who has a wart.
It’s possible to get warts from contact with an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a locker room floor. HPV can also be spread through kissing, sexual contact, and sharing items such as towels or razors.
4. Treatment Options for Warts
Warts can be treated in many different ways. Depending on the type of wart, the age of the person, and the size and location of the wart, the doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is the freezing of the wart with liquid nitrogen. This process will destroy the wart and the surrounding skin, after which the wart cells will be replaced by healthy tissue.
- Excision: This involves the removal of the wart with a scalpel or curette. This is a common procedure and is generally used for larger warts.
- Ablation: This is a procedure in which the wart is burned off using laser or electric currents. This method is less painful than excision, but it can be more expensive.
- Topical creams or ointments: These may contain salicylic acid, or other chemicals, which are designed to break down the wart tissue. Over-the-counter medications are available, although a doctor will be able to recommend something more effective.
- Medical grade duct tape: This method involves the application of medical grade duct tape to the wart for several days. The tape, combined with the natural oils of the skin, may help to loosen and remove the wart.
In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used to treat warts effectively. For instance, a topical cream may be used in conjunction with cryotherapy, or medical grade duct tape combined with salicylic acid. The doctor will be able to advise the best course of action for the patient.
It is important to remember that even after treatment, the wart may still remain or return. Warts can be persistent and difficult to remove. It is also important to note that not all treatments are suitable for everyone, particularly if the person has a health condition or is pregnant.
5. Takeaway for Identifying Warts
When it comes to identifying warts, the main thing to keep in mind is that warts are external and not internal. While they can look like small bumps on the skin, they occur due to a virus and the only way to diagnose them properly is by consulting a doctor.
Signs and Symptoms
Warts can have a broad range of appearances. Some common symptoms include:
- Flat or raised growths with a rough texture
- Scabs that form when warts are scratched or picked
- A single wart or a cluster of warts on the surface
Where to Find Warts
Warts can be found in various areas of the body, including the hands, face, and even the genital area. As warts can be difficult to distinguish from other skin conditions, it is essential to examine the area carefully.
In conclusion, it is essential to identify warts to ensure they are appropriately treated. With the help of a dermatologist, it is possible to determine the type of wart and the cause behind it, in order to find the best possible treatment option to help rid it. By doing this, one can improve their skin health and prevent possible further reoccurrences.