Warts Aren't Just for Witches: Your Guide to Wart Information

Warts may not represent a life-threatening situation in most cases, but they can be unsightly and, depending on their location, can cause some discomfort. The cause of the wart can often be determined by its type, as each type of wart is caused by different factors. Essentially, however, all warts are the result of a virus invading the body through the skin.

Depending on the severity of the wart, some people may choose to ignore it. It is possible that some warts will heal on their own, while treatment is necessary for many others. Often, treatment may be as simple as applying an ointment, or may require a more invasive surgical procedure. Even where a wart doesn't seem serious, it's always a good idea to have it checked out by a doctor. An examination can help determine the best course of action, or if letting it heal on its own is a wise possibility.

What Causes Warts?

Warts often seem to develop magically, but, in fact, they're the result of an infection that affects the outermost layer of skin. This layer is called the epidermis. Infections of these types are the result of HPV spreading through the epidermis. Typically, the virus is introduced to the skin through cuts and scratches. Once absorbed, HPV causes a sudden and rapid skin cell growth, which manifests as a wart.

It's nearly impossible to avoid HPV and dermatologists warn that we expose our skin to it countless times throughout each day. It lingers on doorknobs and other surfaces, as well as passing from person to person via skin contact. There are more than 100 virus types that belong to the HPV family, so it's not surprising to learn that the majority of people develop a common wart at least once in their lifetime. Depending on the exact virus, a wart may develop on the hand, or some viruses may cause genital warts to develop.

The 5 Different Kinds of Warts

  1. Common Warts - These are the warts that most often develop on the toes or fingers, although it is possible for them to develop anywhere on the body. They appear discolored, often gray, and have a grainy texture. They're rounded, similar to a pimple.
  2. Plantar Warts - These warts develop strictly on the soles of the feet and grow inward. They can be identified by a small pinhole in the skin, which often has hard skin encircling it. Since it grows inward, a plantar wart makes walking painful.
  3. Flat Warts - These warts grow on the face, arms, or thighs and can be difficult to notice, since they are flat against the skin. They can vary in color, appearing yellowish, brown, or pink.
  4. Filiform Warts - Often referred to a skin tags, these warts develop on the neck, underneath the chin, and near the nose or mouth. They match the rest of the skin in color and resemble a small flap.
  5. Periungual Warts - These warts strictly flourish around the toenails and fingernails. They're usually very painful and can inhibit nail growth.

Treating Warts

Doctors have two primary methods for treating warts in the office, if ointments and home remedies fail. Liquid nitrogen can be applied to the wart as one means of forcing the wart to fall off on its own. This method is painful, but effective. The wart should come off within five to seven days. The process of freezing the wart causes the skin underneath to form a blister. As the blister grows, the wart will fall off.

In some cases, surgery may be the only option for removing the wart. The patient often receives anesthesia, before the procedure can begin, because the surgery itself is a painful process. The surgeon uses a scalpel to scrape away the wart, or he may use electricity to burn it off. Surgery is often reserved as a last resort, because it can cause scarring.

Warts are unpleasant and often painful, so it can be especially important to treat them efficiently. There are a number of home remedies that can be found online, but more resistant warts will likely require medical treatment. If it comes down to surgery, the doctor will provide information in greater detail to alleviate any concerns. While the treatment may be discomforting in itself, eliminating the wart will be well worth dealing with the pain.

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