Warts are a common skin condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. They are caused by a viral infection known as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can appear anywhere on the body. On this page, we will discuss what a wart is, how you can get a wart, the most common places for warts, how to prevent warts, and how to remove a wart.
What is a wart?
A wart is a small, rough growth that appears on the skin. It can vary in size, shape, and color and is caused by the HPV virus. Warts are not usually painful, but they can be unsightly and can cause embarrassment.
How do you get a wart?
Warts are highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with an infected person or an infected surface. They can also be spread through indirect contact, such as sharing towels, shoes, or other personal items with an infected person. Warts are more likely to develop in warm and moist skin areas, such as the hands, feet, and genital area.
Most common places for warts
Warts can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the hands, feet, and face. Warts that appear on the hands and feet are known as common warts and are usually raised and rough in texture. They can also appear in clusters and may have tiny black dots on the surface. Plantar warts are a type of common wart that appears on the soles of the feet and can be painful when walking.
Warts that appear on the face are usually flat and smooth and are known as flat warts. They are most commonly found on the forehead, cheeks, and nose. Genital warts are a type of wart that appears on the genital area and can be spread through sexual contact.
How to prevent warts
There are several steps you can take to prevent warts:
- Avoid direct contact with an infected person or an infected surface.
- Wear shoes or sandals in public areas, such as locker rooms, showers, and pool areas.
- Keep your hands and feet clean and dry.
- Avoid biting your nails or picking at hangnails, as this can create openings in the skin where the virus can enter.
- Use a barrier method, such as a condom, during sexual activity to reduce the risk of genital warts.
HPV can be prevented through vaccination, which is a 2 or 3 part vaccine that covers the common strains that cause genital warts and those linked to cervical cancer. The vaccine is usually given by a primary care physician starting as early as 12 years of age, but adults can also receive it. Additionally, practicing safe sex, using condoms, and limiting the number of sexual partners can also help reduce the risk of contracting HPV. Regular screenings and check-ups with a healthcare provider can also detect and treat any potential HPV-related issues early on.
How to remove a wart
Warts can be removed through a variety of methods, including:
- Over-the-counter treatments: Several over-the-counter treatments can be used to remove warts, such as salicylic acid and cryotherapy. These treatments work by gradually removing the wart over several weeks.
- Prescription treatments: If over-the-counter treatments are not effective, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication, such as imiquimod cream, to remove the wart.
- Freezing: Your doctor may suggest removal by freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen. The wart and a small patch of healthy skin surrounding the wart are both frozen and destroyed by liquid nitrogen.
- Surgical removal: In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgical removal of the wart. This is usually done under local anesthesia and involves cutting or scraping the wart from the skin.
Warts are a common skin condition caused by the HPV virus. They can appear anywhere on the body and are most commonly found on the hands, feet, and face. Warts can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with an infected person or surface, wearing shoes in public areas, and keeping the skin clean and dry. If you do develop a wart, there are several treatment options available, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, freezing, as well as surgical removal.