What are Warts?
Warts are skin growths that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 60 kinds of HPV, some of which tend to cause warts on the skin. HPV stimulates quick growth of cells on the skin’s outer layer. In most cases, common warts appear on the fingers, near the fingernails, or on the hands. Certain types of HPV can also cause warts to appear in the genital area.
There are several types of warts:
Common warts usually grow on your fingers and toes but can appear elsewhere. They have a rough, grainy appearance and a rounded top. Common warts are grayer than the surrounding skin.
Plantar warts grow on the soles of the feet. Unlike other warts, plantar warts grow into your skin, not out of it. You can tell if you have a plantar wart if you notice what appears to be a small hole in the bottom of your foot that is surrounded by hardened skin. Plantar warts can make walking uncomfortable.
Flat warts usually grow on the face, thighs, or arms. They are small and not immediately noticeable. Flat warts have a flat top, as if they have been scraped. They can be pink, brownish, or slightly yellow.
Filiform warts grow around your mouth or nose and sometimes on your neck or under your chin. They are small and shaped like a tiny flap or tag of skin. Filiform warts are the same color as your skin.
Periungual warts grow under and around the toenails and fingernails. They can be painful and affect nail growth.
Warts often go away without treatment. This is especially true when children get warts. In adults, warts may not disappear as easily or as quickly as they do in children. Although most warts are harmless, the providers at ClearlyDerm do treat them.
You should see one of our providers if you cannot get rid of the warts, the warts hurt, or you have many warts. Dermatologists have many treatments for warts. The treatment used depends on the patient’s age and health as well as the type of wart.
A the providers at ClearlyDerm may use one of the following treatments:
- Cantharidin: A dermatologist may treat a wart in the office by “painting” it with cantharidin. Cantharidin causes a blister to form under the wart. In a week or so, you can return to the office and the dermatologist will clip away the dead wart.
- Cryotherapy: For common warts in adults and older children, cryotherapy (freezing) is the most common treatment. This treatment is not too painful. It can cause dark spots in people who have dark skin. It is common to need repeat treatments.
- Electrosurgery and curettage: Electrosurgery (burning) is a good treatment for common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. Curettage involves scraping off (curetting) the wart with a sharp knife or small, spoon-shaped tool. These two procedures often are used together. The dermatologist may remove the wart by scraping it off before or after electrosurgery.
- Excision: The doctor may cut out the wart (excision).