Warts are generally small, rough growths that may look like a cauliflower or a solid blister. Warts are for the most part are harmless, non-cancerous growths that are very common within the general population (particularly in young children). It is estimated that 1-13% of the population has had a non-genital wart. Warts are contagious being transmitted from person-to-person through an area of broken skin. There are up to 10 varieties of warts where at times old warts shed human papillomavirus (HPV) cells into the skin before the original warts are treated; this allows for new warts to grow. There is no cure for the wart virus; consequently, warts can return at the same site or appear in a new spot. The best way to prevent this is to treat new warts as soon as they appear.
Warts are caused by a viral infection from a certain strain of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Factors that increase the risk of getting a wart include, but are not limited to: those who are immunocompromised, taking showers in public areas, having a skin condition called eczema, and those who work with meat.
As mentioned above, there are a variety of warts that exist. The type of wart is determined by its location on the body, how it grows, and its appearance. Some common types of warts include: common warts, plantar warts, filiform warts, and genital warts. Frequent symptoms of each type of wart are as follows. Common warts generally: have minuscule black dots (often called “seed” warts) throughout the wart; grow in the fingers & back of the hands; and grow where the skin was broken; for example, picking at a hangnail or from biting the fingernails. It is worth mentioning that common warts can spread to other areas of the body such as the face if a wart is on the hand and the individual touches their face. Plantar warts typically: grow most often on the soles of the feet; can have minuscule black dots (often called “seed” warts); are often flat or grow inward; and can grow in clusters (mosaic warts). Filiform warts tend to: grow rapidly; generally grow around the eyes, nose, and mouth; and appear as long fibers that protrude outwards. Please see genital warts for an in-detail explanation into this type of wart.
We will begin by first assessing your skin to determine if a wart is present simply by looking at the “area in question”. In some circumstances, we may perform a skin biopsy where a piece of a wart or a whole wart is removed and sent to the laboratory. The lab will then correspond with us via a biopsy report explaining their findings.
It is typical, especially in children, for warts to disappear on their own without treatment. However, for stubborn warts that do not disappear on their own, there are many treatments available. We will consider the type of wart, your age, and overall health in determining which treatment will be the most suitable. Common outpatient treatments that we may utilize are: excision (cut out the warts), cryotherapy (freezing), cantharidin, and electrosurgery & curettage (destroys warts with an electric current). For hard-to-treat warts, we may use one of the following treatments: immunotherapy [using diphencyprone (DCP) or β- interferon], an anti-cancer medication called bleomycin, chemical peels, and laser treatments.