The Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center staff understands how embarrassing a wart can be when it is located on a part of the body that is noticeable to others. A wart is a benign skin growth that looks and feels like a small, fleshy, grainy pea. They can appear almost anywhere on the body, but most commonly are found on the hands, fingers, and around the fingernails. They can be caused by the human papilloma virus, also known as HPV, but there are other causes as well. The most common types of warts are plantar, flat, and genital. Although most warts are considered harmless, it is advised that a trained dermatologist remove the wart once it is discovered and provide a treatment regime so that it does not return. Patients can receive effective wart removal and wart treatments that will eliminate this skin condition and prevent it from reoccurring.

Symptoms of Warts

Common wart symptoms include bumps that are tender, grainy at the top, and fleshy feeling. The area with the wart can be rough to the touch. Plantar warts look like light brown or flesh-colored lumps that are speckled with tiny, black spots, which are clotted blood vessels. These warts often appear on the soles of the feet. Flat warts are smaller, smoother and flatter compared to other types and can usually be found on the face and sometimes the legs. Genital warts appear in the pubic area, on the genitals, and in or around the vaginal area or anus. These warts appear as small, pink, red or flesh-colored growths. They can appear in clusters of 3 or 4 and can grow and spread rapidly. Though usually not painful, they can bleed or itch.

What causes Warts?

The cause of common warts is the human papilloma virus. “Papilloma” actually refers to the kind of wart that develops from the particular type of HPV. HPV lives in the flat, thin cells that are found on the skin’s surface and also surfaces of the mouth, throat, head, penis, vagina, cervix and anus. Out of the 100 HPV types, about 60 cause warts. Warts occur from having direct contact with HPV, which can be spread from person to person through skin-to-skin contact. Warts can also be the result of making contact with an object used by a person infected with HPV such as exercise equipment or a towel. The virus is usually spread through breaks in the skin such as a scrape or hangnail.

How to treat Warts

Even after initial treatment, warts can reoccur so it is important to find the right treatment method to help keep the condition at bay. Wart freezing is a common and successful treatment option. With freezing, a doctor utilizes liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart away. A blister will form around the wart where the dead tissues will fall off within a week. A substance called cantharidin is extracted from a blister beetle that’s applied to the skin to form a blister around the wart, which lifts it off the skin so the doctor can remove the wart’s dead portion. Other medications to treat warts include bleomycin, which is injected into the wart to kill the virus, and Aldara, which is a prescription cream that can be applied directly to the wart. When other methods are ineffective, surgery may be needed to cut away the wart. An electric needle or cryosurgery, or deep freezing, are methods that can be used to destroy the base of the wart.