Wart : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
A wart is an abnormal small growth on the skin, which is caused by the virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). Warts can appear at any age and anywhere on the body but commonly appear on the hands and feet and in children and teenagers. The shape of wart looks like a solid blister or a small cauliflower and sometimes, tiny black dots on warts appear due to clotted blood vessels. These are highly contagious and spread easily through skin-to-skin contact. The virus may also be transmitted by sharing personal towels or razors. Most warts are harmless but may take months or years to grow large enough and to disappear.
Types and Symptoms
The following are the common types of warts determined by their appearance on different parts of the body and depending upon the type, the symptoms of wart include:
- Grow on fingers and toes
- Dome-shaped on the back of fingers, toes, and knees
- Feels like rough bumps
- Black small dots on the surface of the skin (clotted)
- Grow on the soles of the feet
- Feels like pebbles in the shoe
- Grow in clusters
- While walking, it creates pressure below the surface of foot which makes walking difficult
- Not immediately noticeable due to the flat top
- Grow on thighs, face, and arms in a large number (20-100 at a time)
- In men, it often occurs in the beard area, and in women, occur on the legs
- Smaller and smoother than other warts
- Grow very quickly on the face around mouth, neck, chin, nose, and eyes
- Look like long filaments or thin fingers that stick out
- Become painful, when they grow
- Split the skin around the nails
- Interrupt the growth of nails
- These are more serious and contagious
- Grow on or around the genitals
Causes of Warts
The leading cause of wart is human papillomavirus. The virus enters into the top layer of the skin, usually through a tiny scratch which causes an excess amount of keratin that develops the rough and hard texture. It mostly occurs in those who have a weekend immune system.
- Complications associated with genital wart in women include cervical and anal cancer, pregnancy problems (infection can occur from mother to baby) and in men cancer of the glans penis and anal cancer
- Complications associated with plantar wart include: change in normal body posture.
The methods to diagnose wart include:
- Physical examination: A dermatologist check whether the person has a wart and in which part of the body by looking at it.
- Skin biopsy: Doctor removes a small sample tissue and sends it to the laboratory to check under the microscope to confirm the reason behind skin growth.
There is no way to prevent the wart from developing, but there are some steps which help to reduce the risk of getting warts, which include:
- Do not come in contact with another infected person and also avoid sharing clothes
- Wash hands properly after touching them
- Do not shave over them
- Do not bite nails, if wart occur around them
Generally, warts disappear without treatment, but if they do not vanish, then the treatment is required. The various methods which help to treat wart include:
- Salicylic acid is available in many forms which removes the layers of a wart
- Bleomycin injection is injected into an infected part to kill the virus
- Cantharidin is a substance that contains an extract from an insect called blister which can be applied on the wart to remove the dead part)
- Therapies: Cryotherapy/freezing (nitrogen is sprayed onto the wart to destroy the cells) and immunotherapy (uses patient’s immune system to destroy them).
- Surgeries: Electro-surgery and curettage are used to remove the wart by scrapping it before surgery. Laser treatment is used to numb the wart with anesthetic injection.
- Alternative treatment: Hypnosis (stimulate the immune system), garlic (helps to stop spreading cells), and duct tape (used to remove the affected part, especially in children).