Warts are common in school going children and can occur anywhere on the body, most commonly on hands and feet. They range in size from 1 mm to over 1 cm. Sometimes only one or two warts develop. Sometimes several occur in the same area of skin.
They are not usually harmful. Sometimes warts are painful if they press on a sensitive part of the foot.
Types of Warts:
Common warts are rough brown –grey warts often found on the hands and knees. These warts are round or oval in shape and less than one centimeter wide but occasionally join together or grow larger.
Flat warts :
Flat warts are small, smooth growths that grow in groups most often on face and forehead.
Filiform warts are small, long, narrow growths that usually appear on eyelids, face, or neck.
Plantar warts :
Plantar warts are located on the soles of feet with black dots on surface. Clusters of plantar warts are called mosaic. These warts may be painful.
Genital warts are usually seen in adults grow on the genitals, are occasionally sexually transmitted; These warts are soft and do not have a rough surface like other common warts. In children they may be a sign of child abuse.
The types of HPV that cause common warts, plantar warts, or flat warts are usually different from the types of HPV that cause genital warts.
HPV vaccination protects against HPV strains associated with genital warts and cervical cancer.
How do warts spread?
Warts spread by close skin to skin contact .
You are more at risk of being infected if your skin is damaged, or if it is wet and macerated. For example, in swimming pools and communal washing areas.
You can also spread the wart virus to other areas of your own body. For example, warts may spread round the nails, lips and surrounding skin if you bite warts on your fingers, or nearby nails, or if you suck fingers with warts on.
If you have a poor immune system you may develop lots of warts which are difficult to clear.
How to reduce chances of spreading warts?
Treatment of Warts
- Treatment of warts depends upon where the wart is located.
2. There are many different treatments for warts. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of your treatment as some cause scarring. Warts can be stubborn, so you may need to use more than one type of treatment.
3. Some of the wart treatment options include:
A) Do nothing –
Two-thirds of skin warts in children will resolve on their own within two years, without treatment. However, during this time, the wart may enlarge or new warts may appear. In addition, a few small warts are usually easier to treat than multiple larger warts. For these reasons, most people choose to treat skin warts, particularly if they are painful, persistent, or bothersome in their appearance
B) Topical (applied to the skin) chemicals.
Application of salicylic and lactic acid solution (commercially available in pharmacies). You need to apply the solution each day for up to three months.
Persevere – if you give up too soon, it will not work.
Before applying the salicylic acid, rub off the dead tissue from the top of the wart, with an emery file (or similar).
You can protect the nearby skin by putting some Vaseline on the normal skin around the wart.
You should not apply salicylic acid to the face because of the risk of skin irritation which may cause scarring.
If you have diabetes or poor circulation, you should use salicylic acid only on the advice of a doctor.
C) Cryotherapy (freezing the wart)
Liquid nitrogen is commonly used. The nitrogen is sprayed on or applied to the wart. Liquid nitrogen is very cold and the freezing and thawing destroys the wart tissue.
To clear the wart fully it can need up to 4-6 treatment sessions, sometimes more. Each treatment session is a couple of weeks or so apart.
D) Curettage and electrocautery – (using an electrical current to destroy the wart)
Surgical procedure performed under local anaesthesia.
E) Laser therapy –
Laser is used to burn off the warts. Scarring may occur.
F) An immune system stimulator
An immune system modulator such as imiquimod cream can be used especially for genital warts. It stimulates the immune system to fight the viral infection.