Warts are growths on the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts are very common, particularly in school-age children. Warts can spread by direct contact to other parts of the body, or to others. Warts appear most frequently on the hands and feet. Sometimes they look flat and smooth, other times they have a dome-shaped or cauliflower-like appearance. Warts can be surrounded by skin that is either lighter or darker.
Common types of warts include:
- Common Warts Often called seed warts because the blood vessels running to the wart produce black dots that look like seeds, common warts usually appear on the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands
- Plantar warts Found on the soles, or plantar area of feet, plantar warts do not stick up above the surface like common warts because the pressure of walking flattens them and pushes them back into the skin. Foot warts can be painful
- Flat warts Smaller and smoother than other warts, flat warts tend to grow 20 to 100 warts at any one time. Flat warts appear most often on the children's faces, women's legs and the beard area in men
- Genital Warts Also referred to as venereal warts or condylomata acuminata, genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease that a person contracts through sexual contact. Genital warts can be associated with cervical cancer. Vaccines can help prevent but do not treat this type of warts in men and women
For warts not found on the face or genitals, you can start with over-the-counter medications. Apply them to the wart every day for several weeks. To remove persistent warts, your doctor may use stronger prescription medicines such as podophylin or salicylic acid. Laser treatment, surgical removal, freezing and burning (electrocautery) can also be used if necessary.
To reduce the chances of developing warts...
- Avoid contact with warts
- Cover feet in public showers or lockers
- Do not aggravate or pick at a wart
- Keep skin as dry as possible
- Use a condom during intercourse
- Wash hands thoroughly after contact with a wart
- Do not shave if warts are in hair-bearing areas
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