1. What Are They?
When the skin is infected with a virus from the human papillomavirus (HPV) family, it causes extra cell growth, making small and rough lumps appear. These raised bumps are called warts and are usually seen in hands or feet. They vary in type which can be defined according to where it is and how it looks like.
2. Who Gets Them?
The way the body responds to HPV, which takes hold easier once your skin is cut or damaged, depends on your immune system. The victims who are more likely to get a wart are the ones with week immune systems like kids, teens, and people that have immune diseases or are taking biologic drugs for chronic skin conditions. Also, biting your nails or picking at hangnails makes you more susceptible to getting warts.
3. How They Spread?
Warts spread very easily, mainly on moist or injured skins, by direct skin contact or by things that have touched the wart. So, picking your wart and touching another area of your body, or using a towel or razor that have been in contact with the condition is enough to make a wart grow on your skin.
Types of warts:
- Common Warts: these small-sized bumps feel rough and may have black dots (looking like seeds) and usually appear on the backs of hands, fingers, feet, and the skin around nails. A probable cause for the growth of these warts is biting your fingernails since they show up where the skin is broken.
- Plantar Warts: As the name suggests, these warts appear on the soles of your feet and feel like pebbles in your shoe. They are flat, tough, and thick, and unless for the black dots on their surface, are very similar to calluses. Due to the pressure of walking and standing, it’s common for them to grow into your skin.
- Genital Warts: These warts are small, looking either as a cluster of bumps or scattered skin-colored and are a result of having sex with someone who has them. Treating genital warts can be hard and they can spread even if they are not so visible.
Other types of HPV are passed sexually, including oral and anal sex, and could cause cancer.
4. How Long They Last?
Warts may need some time to disappear, staying for as many as 2 years or more (especially in adults). However, with time, your immune system will create a resistance to fight those warts off. Treatment is essential, though, because some warts don’t go away spontaneously.
5. How can I get rid of warts?
The best option is to let your dermatologist tell whether your skin growth is a wart, and define the right treatment. Some available treatments that Dr. Yassine performs are:
- Cryosurgery: in this procedure, Dr. Yassine freezes common warts on adults and older children using liquid nitrogen whose stabbing pain is not suitable for children. It may require more than one session and better results are achieved when followed with salicylic acid. However, this treatment can leave light spots on darker skins.
- Burning and Cutting: electrosurgery uses an electric charge to burn common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. Whereas, curettage uses either a sharp knife or spoon-shaped tool to scrap off the wart. It may also slice off or cut out the wart with a sharp blade.
- Carbon dioxide laser (CO2 Laser): when your warts are around your fingernails or toenails and other treatments weren’t efficient, your dermatologist may use a laser to cut away the top of the wart first, and then, with less focused light, burn away the rest.
Finally, Dr. Yassine highly recommends that you avoid picking and touching yours or someone’s warts, wash your hands once the treatment is done, always dry your foot warts, and prefer to wear waterproof sandals or flip-flops in public places like showers, pools, and locker rooms to decrease the possibility of having and spreading warts.