What Is a Wart?

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Warts are small fleshy growths on the skin that are usually light grey, pink or brown in colour. They are caused by a contagious virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV) that infects the skin. People can get this virus by direct contact with someone who has a wart or by touching a surface that a person with a wart has touched.


Where Do Warts Appear?

Warts can appear on any part of the body, but they are more likely to show up on the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, and feet. They are more common in children but can appear at any age. Warts usually disappear on their own over time and are not painful, except when they appear on the underside of the foot. However, they may cause some discomfort or embarrassment due to their unsightly appearance. Therefore, most people look for remedies to remove them rather than waiting for them to fall off, which may take a year or two. Nevertheless, after being removed, they may come back.


What Causes Warts?

Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which infects the top layer of the skin. Different people respond differently to the virus, and some may get warts while others may not. Furthermore, there are 100 different strains of the human papillomavirus, and the strain that causes common warts is not the same as the one that causes genital warts.


What Are the Different Types of Warts?

There are different types of warts that can be found on the human body namely;


Flat Warts

Flat warts, also known as plane warts, are a type of wart that is smaller and smoother than other varieties. They can occur anywhere on the body and tend to appear in clusters with 20 to 100 appearing at a time.


Plantar Warts

Plantar warts, resulting from the human papillomavirus (HPV), are contagious and can spread through direct contact between individuals or indirectly by walking barefoot on surfaces that contain the virus. Moist environments like community pool areas or locker rooms are common breeding grounds for the virus.


Filiform Warts

Filiform warts have long, narrow spike-like projections and tend to grow on the face, around the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Periungual Warts

These types of warts develop around the fingernail or toenail. They appear as thickened skin around the nail and may disturb nail growth, which can cause nail loss. People who bite their nails are more likely to get periungual warts. Palmar warts are those that occur on the hand, while plantar warts are those that occur on the sole of the foot.


Are Warts Contagious?

Warts can spread through skin-to-skin contact and are highly contagious. Touching or picking at a wart and then touching another part of your body or someone else's skin can cause the wart to spread. The same applies if you have an open wound that comes into contact with someone else's wart. In addition, warts can also spread indirectly through fomites, which are objects or surfaces that are likely to carry infection. For instance, moist places like swimming pools or bathrooms can harbour fomites.


What Can I Do to Prevent Skin Warts in Children?

To prevent the spread of warts, it is important to ensure that your child avoids touching the affected area and refrain from touching other parts of their body or other people. Additionally, they should not share any personal items that come into contact with the wart, such as towels. If warts are present on the soles of the feet, wearing socks or slippers can help prevent further spread.


Diagnosis and Identification

Warts, a prevalent skin condition, can typically be diagnosed by a dermatologist through visual examination. Treatment for warts varies based on factors like duration, location, type, and quantity. Methods range from topical applications to surgical procedures.


When to Seek Medical Attention for Warts

While some warts may resolve spontaneously, it's essential to consult a doctor if they occur in certain situations, such as in young children or when exhibiting concerning symptoms. Additionally, certain warts, like plantar warts, often necessitate medical intervention to ensure proper treatment and avoid complications, especially in high-risk individuals such as those with diabetes.

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