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Niceville (Bluewater Bay), FL

Niceville (Bluewater Bay), FL

Warts (Verruca Vulgaris): Diagnosis and treatment

Wart or V V handout

Warts are benign (not cancerous) skin growths that appear when a virus infects the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way.

Wart viruses are contagious. Warts can spread by contact with the wart or something that touched the wart.

Warts are often skin-colored and feel rough, but they can be dark (brown or gray-black), flat, and smooth.

What causes warts?

Warts are caused by various strains of human papillomaviruses. Different strains may cause warts in different parts of the body. Warts can be spread from one location on the body to another or from person to person by contact with the wart.

The main symptom is a fleshy, painless growth on the skin. Common areas affected include the hands, feet, and genitals.

Treatment may include topical medications and removal through medical procedures.

Types of warts

There are a few different types of warts. The type is determined by where it grows on the body and what it looks like. The following describes the signs (what a person sees) and symptoms (what a person feels) for some of the different types of warts.

Common warts (also called vurruca vulgaris)

• Grow most often on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands.
• Are more common where skin was broken, such as from biting fingernails or picking at hangnails.
• Can have black dots that look like seeds (often called “seed” warts).Most often feel like rough bumps.

Plantar warts

These warts appear on the sole of the foot and can be hard to treat.

Flat warts

• Can occur anywhere. Children usually get them on the face. Men get these most often in the beard area, and women tend to get them on their legs.
• Are smaller and smoother than other warts.
• Tend to grow in large numbers, 20 to 100 at a time.

Filiform warts

• Looks like long threads or thin fingers that stick out
• Often grows on the face: around the mouth, eyes, and nose
• Often grow quickly

How do dermatologists treat warts?

Warts often go away without treatment. This is especially true when children get warts. In adults, warts may not disappear as easily or as quickly as they do in children. Although most warts are harmless, dermatologists do treat them.

You should see a dermatologist if you cannot get rid of the warts, the warts hurt, or you have many warts. Dermatologists have many treatments for warts. The treatment used depends on the patient’s age and health as well as the type of wart.

A dermatologist may use one of the following treatments:

• Cantharidin: A dermatologist may treat a wart in the office by “painting” it with cantharidin. Cantharidin causes a blister to form under the wart.
• Cryosurgery: For common warts in adults and older children, cryosurgery (freezing) is the most common treatment. This treatment is not too painful. It can cause dark spots in people who have dark skin. It is common to need repeat treatments.
• Electrosurgery and curettage: Electrosurgery (burning) is a good treatment for common warts, filiform warts, and foot warts. Curettage involves scraping off (curetting) the wart with a sharp knife or small, spoon-shaped tool. These two procedures often are used together. The dermatologist may remove the wart by scraping it off before or after electrosurgery.
• Excision: In rare cases the doctor may cut out the wart (excision).

Two tips for healing warts more quickly

1. Treat the wart. When someone has a healthy immune system, a wart will often go away on its own. This can take a long time, though. In the meantime, the virus that causes warts can spread to other parts of the body, which may lead to more warts.

Treatment can help a wart clear more quickly. You can buy effective wart treatment without a prescription over the counter such as Compound W which contains Salicylic Acid.
When treating a wart, dermatologists recommend that you:

Cover your wart. This helps prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the body, and to other people.
Wash your hands immediately after touching the wart. This also helps to prevent spreading the virus to other parts of the body and to other people.

2. Avoid shaving over a wart. When you shave, you create microtears in your skin. If you shave over a wart, you’ll have microtears in your wart and the skin that you shave.

Through these microtears, you can spread the virus that causes warts from the wart to any skin that you shave. For example, a man can get new warts in his beard area if he shaves over a wart and then shaves his face. When a woman shaves over a wart and then shaves her legs, she may develop several warts on her legs.

If you shave over a wart and then shave your pubic hair, you can develop warts in your pubic area.

Self-Care Guidelines

Over-the-counter wart removers have a high percentage of salicyclic acid and work by dissolving away the layer of skin infected with the virus. This treatment needs to be used daily and can sometime be irritating if it touches unaffected skin around it. 40% salicylic acid self-stick pads appear to be one of the most effective types.


Treatment is mostly based on your own bodies immune system (the body’s defense system) and how quickly it can fight off the virus. Sometimes it can take many treatments for warts to resolve. Warts can take weeks or even months to completely go away.

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