Warts

Treatment

Warts are caused by a skin infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) which leads to overgrowth of infected skin cells. These fleshy or rough bumps are contagious and can develop anywhere on the skin but are commonly found on the hands and feet. 

Warts are identified by their distinctive compact, rough, and fleshy appearance on the skin’s surface. Most often painless and noticed visually or by touch, warts typically have a rough surface and may resemble a cauliflower, often appearing on any part of the body including the fingers, back, neck, and more. Additionally, there are multiple types of warts, including: 

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Common Warts: These warts typically appear on the hands, fingers, and around the nails. They have a rough, raised surface and may have black dots (clotted blood vessels) within them.

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Planter Warts: Found on the soles of the feet, plantar warts can be flat or raised, often causing pain or discomfort when walking. They may have a rough surface and small black dots.

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Flat Warts: These warts are smoother and flatter than common warts. They can appear in larger numbers, often on the face, neck, hands, or knees, and may be pink, light brown, or yellowish in color.

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Filiform Warts: These long and narrow warts usually appear around the eyes, mouth, or neck. They often have thread-like projections and can be flesh-colored or slightly darker.

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Genital Warts: A sexually transmitted infection caused by certain strains of HPV, genital warts appear on the genital and anal areas. They can vary in size and may be raised or flat.

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Periungual Warts: These warts develop around or under the nails and can affect the nail plate, leading to changes in nail shape or texture.

Affecting over 42 million people in the United States, warts are caused by strains of HPV or human papilloma virus. HPV is a group of viruses that can infect the skin and mucous membranes, leading to the formation of warts.  The virus typically enters the body through sexual activity, small cuts, breaks, or other vulnerable sites in the skin, where it can then cause the skin cells to grow rapidly, forming a wart. Warts are generally benign and often resolve on their own, but some may persist or require treatment.

Warts are typically diagnosed through a visual examination by a healthcare professional. The distinctive appearance of warts, often characterized by their raised and rough texture, helps in identification.

There are a number of treatments for warts, with the specific type chosen depending on the wart(s) and its severity. The most common wart treatments include: 

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Topical Chemical Treatments

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Cryotherapy

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Electrosurgery

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Laser Therapy

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Intralesional Immunotherapy

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Prescription Medications

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Minor Surgery 

Ongoing management for warts tends to stress proper skincare, hygiene, and avoiding the spread of HPV. HPV spread can be prevented by practicing safe sex, not picking at or biting warts, and staying aware of any recurrence that may cause more warts to appear. Covering warts with bandages can help when undergoing treatment to further avoid spread. 

If not already infected, preventing warts involves minimizing exposure to HPV. While complete prevention may be challenging, certain measures can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading warts. Avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with individuals who have warts, especially in moist environments like communal showers or swimming areas. Refrain from sharing personal items like towels, razors, and shoes, which can facilitate the transmission of the virus. Maintain good hygiene practices, including keeping the skin clean and dry, to reduce vulnerability to HPV. Consistent and correct use of condoms during sexual activity can also lower the risk of genital warts. 

Includes but not limited to:

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Topicals to thin out overgrown skin cells (Salicylic Acid or Fluorouracil)

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Topical immunomodulators (Imiquimod)

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Condylox topical therapy

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