Warts are harmless but unsightly growths that develop as a result of a viral infection in the top layer of a person’s skin. They are a common dermatological complaint, and while they usually go away on their own, there are also effective treatments to get rid of them faster.
The Dermatology Clinic treats several different types of warts. Plantar warts develop on the soles of the feet, while common warts usually pop up on the hands or face and around fingernails. Flat warts can grow anywhere on the body, and they often grow in large groups. They are smaller and smoother than other types of warts. Filiform warts grow in the shape of thin protrusions, and they usually form very quickly. They often develop on the face.
Warts are the skin’s response to being invaded by human papillomaviruses (HPV). When HPV enters the skin, usually through a cut or abrasion, the top layer of skin begins growing excessively in response, forming a wart. Warts can appear lumpy, flat, smooth, or rough.
Because HPV is contagious, warts can be spread through contact, including contact with towels or clothing that has been contaminated with the virus. Warts can even be spread from one part of the body to another. Children, teens, people who bite their nails, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing warts, though anyone can get them.
The primary way to avoid warts is to prevent infection by HPV. Avoiding direct contact with another person’s warts and cleaning shared surfaces, like bathtubs, weekly can help keep the virus at bay. Maintaining healthy practices, such as always wearing shoes in the locker room and never sharing razors, towels, or other hygiene items, can also prevent infection. Minimizing points of entry by breaking bad habits like nail-biting can avoid the virus from entering the skin even if it does make contact. Finally, if a wart does appear, it should be covered with a bandage until it goes away to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of the body or other people.
Always seek a doctor’s advice if you are unsure whether a growth is a wart, if you have an immune deficiency, or if the wart appears on your face or genitals. Most warts gradually go away without any treatment. If a wart is painful, doesn’t disappear within several months, or if many warts spring up at once, help is available. We can examine your skin and work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV, so warts may recur once you are infected. Fortunately, warts are treatable. Treatments like cryotherapy, electrosurgery, or excision can be employed to remove warts physically, and there are additional options for recurring warts or warts that are difficult to remove.
At The Dermatology Clinic, our board-certified dermatologists can help you manage warts. If you or your children are struggling with warts, call us today.