A wart is a very common growth of the skin caused by the Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV). Warts are the second most common skin disease after acne. Children and young people are more often affected because of their immature immune system, but they may arise at any age.

More than 70 HPV subtypes are known to cause warts in different parts of the body (different types of the virus usually cause warts in different areas). The virus causes rapid proliferation of skin cells (keratinocytes), resulting in skin lesions that are more annoying than dangerous, but are highly contagious.

Warts can be transmitted by simple contact with infected skin  (handshake) or contaminated objects, where there is a minor injury. It can also be transmitted by touching wet surfaces, such as pool floors and changing rooms that have been contaminated by people who already have warts. Finally the virus can spread through patients’ breaks in their skin, such as a hangnail or a scrape. Biting their nails also can cause warts to spread on fingertips and around the nails.

They are distinguished in common warts, plantar warts and plane warts.

COMMON WARTS: Common warts are painless, benign, small, skin colored, rounded bumps (medically called ) with a rough hyperkeratotic surface. They usually develop around the nails, fingers and the back of the palm, but they can also occur on the knees and face, especially where the skin has been injured.

PLANTAR WARTS: Plantar warts are found only on the soles of the feet and are inwardly growing, that is, they tend to grow inside the skin. They can be brown or gray (with a dark center) and can be painful. Often, multiple black spots are distinguished scattered at the wart area that exist due to thrombotic vessels and are a useful sign in clinical diagnosis. 

FLAT WARTS: They are flat bumps (papule)  with a smooth surface reddish or in skin’s color. They tend to grow in large numbers, from 20 to 100 at a time. They can appear everywhere, but in children they usually appear on the face. In adults, they usually appear on the chin and on the jowls of men, while on men they appear on the tibia.

Treatment

  • Cryotherapy

In cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is applied. One misconception many have is that they think the wart is frozen or burned immediately. This is not true, as cooling causes the skin to slowly crumble, resulting in a blister around the wart. The dead tissue falls of within about a week. It leaves no scar and there is no risk of spreading the wart.

  • Cauterization

Electrosurgery (curettage and cautery) is used for large and resistant warts. Cauterization of the wart is a method that destroys tissue using electricity. The growth is pared away and the base burned. The wound heals in two weeks or longer. Burning the wart is often the most effective method.

  • Laser

Wart is treated via Laser using a beam of light, which burns the wart’s tissue. A local or general anesthetic is often used. This method is used when the warts are large and scattered. It usually does not cause scarring. The wound will cause pain for a few days after surgery and there is small risk of infection.