Warts (Common)

What are Warts?

A common wart is a small growth that appears on the surface of a person’s skin. These growths are not cancerous or harmful, but they often have an unsightly appearance.

The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the type of virus that causes common warts. The virus normally enters the skin through a cut or a scratch and this causes an infection on the surface of the skin. The infection triggers the skin cells to grow quickly and this action causes a wart to form. Since HPV is infectious, individuals can acquire the virus through contact with an infected person or object.

What are the Symptoms of  Warts?

The symptom of a common wart is the presence of a small, grainy growth on the skin. Common warts normally appear on the hands and fingers, and the outer layer of the wart is rough to the touch.

Warts may appear the same color as a person’s skin or they may have a gray or tan tint. Individuals may notice tiny black dots inside the wart, which are caused by the clotting of blood vessels.

Warts Causes

Warts are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). It can be caught in a number of ways, but people are more susceptible to contracting it via a scrape or cut in the skin.

For this reason, people who chew their fingernails or pick at the skin around the nails are more likely to contract HPV and develop warts. Children and teens also tend to be at an increased risk since they may be more likely to get scratches or cuts on their hands.

Warts can spread from one person to the next, or to different areas of the body, simply by touching them. It may even be possible to contract HPV and develop a wart after touching something that someone with a wart has touched. However, since warts tend to take months to grow large enough to be noticed, it can be difficult to know exactly when and why a wart has been caused.

How are Warts Treated?

Without any type of treatment, common warts will normally go away on their own, but it can take up to 18 months for them to disappear. Since these warts are often on the hands and they are easily seen, many people choose to treat their warts so they will leave more quickly.

Wart treatments that can be purchased at the drugstore include freezing spray and salicylic acid. If these treatments do not prove effective, individuals can visit a dermatologist for professional treatment. Types of treatments commonly performed by a dermatologist include cantharidin, cryotherapy, curettage and electrosurgery. If necessary, a dermatologist can remove the wart by cutting it out of the skin.

Warts Prevention

The best way to prevent warts is to practice some key techniques which could prevent the HPV virus from spreading.

Those who already have a wart should avoid picking or scratching at it, as this could cause it to spread to different areas of the body. If you see someone else with a wart, avoid touching it. Parents who may need to treat the wart of their child should consider wearing latex gloves and should wash their hands immediately afterwards.

When using public pools, showers and locker rooms it is wise to wear flip-flops or similar footwear, since water can help the HPV virus to spread more easily. Similarly, if you have a wart on the foot you should take particular care to keep it dry to prevent it spreading across the foot. Try to avoid getting feet very sweaty, and be sure to dry feet thoroughly after showering, bathing or swimming.

If one person in a household has a wart, they should avoid using towels which others may use, as this could cause other people to contract the virus.