You Wanted to Know: Warts!

hand with wart isolated on white background

Contrary to popular belief, warts don’t come from toads or frogs. They are instead caused by viruses; the human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common cause of warts in children and adults. Once the virus enters the skin, there is a rapid growth of the top layer of the skin. Warts may grow on any part of the skin and typically most warts caused by HPV will resolve on their own within a few months or years. They’re not dangerous, but they sure are annoying, which explains Sime’s Facebook message:

053113Sime Sokolov

First of all, there are five different types of warts:

  • Common warts. Usually found on fingers, hands, knees and elbows, a common wart is a small, hard bump that’s dome-shaped and usually grayish-brown. It has a rough surface that may look like the head of a cauliflower with black dots inside.
  • Flat warts. These are about the size of a pinhead, are smoother than other kinds of warts, and have flat tops. Flat warts may be pink, light brown or yellow. Most kids who get flat warts have them on their faces, but they can also grow on arms, knees, or hands and can appear in clusters.
  • Plantar warts. Found on the bottom of the foot, plantar warts can be very uncomfortable — like walking on a small stone.
  • Filliform warts. These have a finger-like shape, are usually flesh-colored, and often grow on or around the mouth, eyes, or nose.
  • Genital warts. Usually found on the genitals, in the pubic area and in the area between the thighs, they can also appear inside the vagina and anal canal.

While warts are technically contagious, you won’t automatically get a wart if you touch someone else’s. That’s where proper hand hygiene comes in. Having a tiny cut or scratch on your skin may make you more vulnerable to warts.  That’s also why it isn’t a good idea to share makeup, razors, towels, etc. because they can harbor wart-causing viruses.

If you do get a wart, try not to pick at it (like what your mother told you to do) because it can make it easier to spread it to other parts of your body — or to other people.

If you have a wart on your hands and/or feet, the best thing you can do is leave them alone. They usually go away by themselves in a several weeks to a few months. You can buy topical over-the-counter medications to improve the warts. At the doctor’s office, you can get warts either frozen off or burned with acid. You can also use duct tape to cover the ward for what usually takes 1 to 2 months.  Good luck!