Warts are skin growths caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV stimulates accelerated growth of cells of the skin’s outer layer, resulting in the wart. Warts are caused through direct contact with someone who has HPV, which is contagious. They can also be spread by an object used by the person with the virus.
Types of Warts:
- Common: Typically are raised warts with a rough surface that can occur anywhere on the body, but are most often found on the hands.
- Flat: Generally are smoother, flatter, and smaller than common warts, and generally occur on the face. This type of wart is more common in children and adolescents.
- Plantar: Usually appear as flesh-colored or light brown lesions that are flecked with small blood vessels, which appear as black dots. Plantar warts occur on the bottom of the feet.
- Genital: Can appear in the pubic region, on the genitals, in or around the anus, and in the vagina. They look like small pink or red growths. Genital warts usually grow in clusters of two or three, and can spread and grow rapidly. Mild pain, itching and bleeding can occur. HPV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, and is the most common sexually transmitted disease in North America. Some forms of HPV cause genital warts, while other forms of HPV are responsible for causing cervical cancer.
There are many treatment options for warts. Often getting rid of warts requires multiple treatment sessions and types of treatments.
Some options include:
- Freezing: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the wart. Irritation forms around the wart, and the dead tissue falls off within about a week. Inflammation from the treatment triggers the body’s response to the virus causing the wart and alerts the body to start fighting it.
- Medications: Some medications can be applied to the wart to help it form a blister and fall off, such as Cantharidin. Alternatively, drugs can be injected into a wart to kill the virus. There are also prescription creams sometimes used to treat genital warts.
- Minor Surgery: When other treatments fail, minor surgery may be considered. The wart will be cut away, and then the base of the wart will be destroyed by deep freezing (cryosurgery).