Common warts are typically non-cancerous skin growths caused by the human papillomavirus virus (HPV). The HPV virus stimulates a rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of skin. There are more than 100 types of HPV warts.
There are types of HPV that tend to cause warts on your skin. Common warts frequently occur on your hands, fingers or near your fingernails. Other types of HPV can cause warts in other places:
Plantar warts: Warts that are on the soles of the feet. They may be skin-colored or light brown bumps with small black dots imbedded in them. The dots are small blood vessels.
Genital warts: Warts that are common in sexually transmitted diseases. They may occur on genitals, in the pubic area or in or on the anal area. Women may experience genital warts on the inside or outside of the vagina.
Flat warts: Warts that are typically smaller and smoother than other warts. They may occur on the face or on legs. They typically are more common in younger people than in adults.
Most common warts are harmless and can disappear on their own. However, they may be irritating and unsightly requiring their removal. Common warts can reoccur following treatment and may represent a perpetual problem.
Common Warts: Symptoms
Common warts are typically small, skin colored warts with small bumps. They may be white, pink or tan in color and rough to the tough. The frequently have one or more small black dots or blood vessels visible inside of them. Common warts are typically painless and tend to infect young vs. older people.
Common Warts: Causes
Common warts are typically contracted by HPV. Similar to other types of infectious diseases, HPV may pass between people. It is possible to directly contract HPV through contaminated towels or other personal objects that have come in contact with the virus. As each person’s auto immune system responds differently to HPV exposure, not everyone who is exposed to HPV will become infected or develop warts. Certain warts, like genital warts, are very contagious. However, contracting common warts from an infected individual is less likely.
Individuals who have warts can spread the virus to other places on their body. Usually, the wart virus spreads via breaks in the skin. Common warts on the hands or fingers may be spread by skin biting or itching causing surrounding skin to break or crack.
Common Warts: Medical Treatment
Common warts may not necessarily require medical attention. Common warts may disappear on their own or with home treatment and homeopathic remedies. However, to reduce the chance of infecting or spreading warts to other parts of the body, warts may surgically removed, chemically or liquid nitrogen treated by a dermatologist or doctor. This will also reduce the change for infected individuals spreading warts to other people.
See your physician if warts persist or if warts are irritating, painful or rapidly multiply.
Common Warts: Complications
Warts may crack or bleed and become infected. Seek medical attention if warts appear infected. The most common complication is the reoccurrence of warts. Because warts shed virus material, new warts may appear as fast as old ones vanish. The risk of infecting others with HPV also exists.
Common Warts Treatment
If common warts are do not vanish on their own or home based treatments or remedies do not work, doctors may suggest one of the following treatments based on the severity and location of warts. Doctors typically start with the less invasive and painful method.
Freezing: Doctors may elect to treat warts by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. This treatment is generally not painful and can be very effective. However, multiple treatments may be necessary. Freezing destroys the HPV works by causing a blister to form around your wart. Then, the dead tissue sloughs off within a week or so.
Chemical Cantharidin: Cantharidin is a chemical extracted from the blister beetle and can be used for the treatment of warts. The extract is typically mixed with other chemicals and painted on the skin and covered with a bandage. The treatment is painless, however the resulting skin blister may be uncomfortable. Blistering is important as it lifts the wart off the skin so your doctor can remove the dead part of the wart.
Surgery: Surgical removal typically involves cutting away the wart or destroying the wart with an electric needle in a process known as Eelectrodesiccation or Curettage. Injection of an anesthetic is required as this type of surgery may be painful and leave a scar. Generally, surgery is usually reserved for warts that haven’t responded well to other therapies. Laser surgery may also be used for tough to treat warts. However, it can be expensive and lease scaring.
Medications: The medication Bleomycin, may be prescribed by a physician in severe cases of common warts that have not responded well to standard treatments. The medication is typically injected in the wart that kills the virus. This medication is also given internally in much higher doses to treat some kinds of cancers. Dermatologist may also elect to use Immunotherapy, which uses the body auto immune system to fight and kill warts. Both genital and common warts may also be successfully treated with an immunotherapy medication called Imiquimod (Aldara). The prescriptive cream increases the skin’s immune response to the wart causing the wart to die.
Common warts may be difficult to completely eradicate. Nail areas are one of the more difficult areas to treat. New warts may continue to crop up after treatment frequently requiring more than one treatment or approach. Multiple approaches may be necessary to satisfactorily manage the problem.
Common Warts: Prevention
Reducing the risk of spreading warts is the best type of prevention. To reduce wart spread do not brush, clip, comb or shave areas infected with warts. Do not use the same nail file, nail clipper, towels, wash cloths or other personal items that may have come in contact with the virus. Avoid picking warts. Picking may cause the virus to spread. If children are infected, covering infected areas with bandages or gauze can reduce the risk of spreading warts. Wash hands carefully and keep them as dry as possible as warts are more difficult to treat in a moist environment. Wash you hands after touching warts.
Common Warts: Self-care
There are a number of self-care treatment approaches to the treatment of common warts. Do not attempt self-treatment if you have a compromised auto immune system or diabetes.
Medicinal Remedies: Herbal remedy treatments may be very effective if “anti-HPV chemicals” are in sufficient concentration. There are both legitimate and ill-legitimate natural remedies available on the market. One of the most effective homeopathic remedies is Wart Rx from medicinalremedies.com.
Topical acid: Topical acid medications and patches are available at drugstores. They may be used at home under product instructions or your doctor may instruct you on their use. Common warts products should contain a solution or patch containing at least 17 percent salicylic acid like Compound W or Occlusal HP that will causes the skin to peel off. Topical acid products require daily use for several weeks. Best results are achieved by soaking warts in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes before applying the acid solution or patch and filing away dead skin nail file or pumice stone between treatments. Be careful, the acid in these products can cause skin irritation or damage to skin. If pregnant, seek physician advice before using a topical acid product.
Duct tape: Duct tape is considered an alternative treatment compared with more traditional wart therapies. In October 2002, a well-publicized study, suggests duct tape was more effective in killing warts than Cryotherapy. Study members using duct tape covered their warts with duct tape for six days. After duct tape removal, participants soaked their warts in water and scrubbed warts with an emery board or pumice stone. The process was repeated for two months or until their warts disappeared. Medical researchers suggest that duct tape therapy may work by irritating the wart and surrounding skin tissue causing the body’s auto immune system to kick in and attack the wart virus. Duct tape therapy may become a mainstream treatment option as it is pain free inexpensive home-based treatment. This treatment option may prove beneficial in treating children.
Other Types of Warts: