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Warts

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Definition

Warts are benign skin growths caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). These skin growths develop in broken skin and can occur anywhere on the body. Warts are contagious and can be transmitted from person to person. They may occur anywhere on the body but are frequently seen on areas of frequent contact i.e. the hands and face

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Types

  • Verruca Vulgaris or common warts
    • Rough, gray-brown, dome-shaped growths which may occur anywhere on the body. These warts are frequently seen on areas of frequent contact i.e. hands, feet and face.
  • Plantar warts
    • Hard, thick patches of skin with dark specks, these are commonly present on soles and feet
  • Periungual or subungual warts
    • This type of warts are present under the fingernails or toenails
  • Verrucae Planea Juveniles or flat warts
    • Tiny, pinhead size warts with flat surfaces, commonly present on face, forehead, arms and legs
  • Genital warts
    • Flesh to gray in color, often grow together in clusters and form cauliflowerlike masses. These warts are found on the genitals, around the anus, within the rectum or vagina or on the cervix.
  • Filliform warts
    • Flesh-colored warts with fingerlike projections, these warts are usually found around the mouth, nose or beard area.

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Causes

  • Human papilloma virus

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Symptoms

  • Small or large bumps
  • Usually painless
  • Flesh-colored, white, pink or tan
  • Rough or grainy to touch
  • May contain tiny black dots, which are sometimes called wart seeds but are actually small, clotted blood vessels.

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Implications

Warts usually do not cause any symptoms unless they are on areas of repeated friction. They are potentially harmless and tend to regress or disappear over time. However, warts are considered a social stigma as they are considered unsightly and contagious. Large numbers of plantar warts on the foot may cause difficulty running & walking & can be debilitating.

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What You Can Do

  • Application of cantharidin to remove the wart. Canthardin is mixed with other chemicals, painted onto the skin and covered with a bandage. This results in a skin blister which can be quite uncomfortable. The blister lifts the wart off your skin and it can be carefully removed along with the surrounding dead skin by your physician.
  • Use topical preparations containing salicylic and lactic acid on a daily basis for several weeks.
  • Surgical removal or removal of the wart by freezing (cryotherapy), burning (electrocautery), or laser treatment may be needed.
  • Injecting the wart with a medication called bleomycin can kill the virus.
  • Medications and patches containing salicylic acid are available over-the-counter. These can be used to treat warts at home. These medications are available in different strengths such as for common warts, a solution or patch containing 17 percent salicylic acid is used which peels off the infected skin. These products require to be used daily for a few weeks. For best results, soak your wart in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes before applying a solution or patch, and file away any dead skin with a nail file or pumice stone between treatments. Just be careful. The acid in these products can irritate or damage normal skin.
  • Immunotherapy, causes by a localized allergic reaction that may be triggered by your immune system can be very useful. Imiquimod (Aldara) is an immunotherapy medication that is commercially available as a cream increases the skin's immune response to the wart, resulting in the death of the wart.
  • Do not pick at warts as it may spread the virus.
  • Keep your hands as dry as possible, wash your hands carefully after touching your warts.
  • Avoid direct contact with people who have warts to prevent spread of infection.
  • Do not comb or shave areas with warts in order to avoid spreading the virus.

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Warts