Skin Warts

Patient education: Skin warts (The Basics)
Written by the doctors and editors at UpToDate

What do skin warts look like?
— Skin warts are raised round or oval growths. They can be lighter or darker than the skin around them. Some warts have tiny black dots in them, often called seeds. Warts can appear alone or in groups that join and form patches.

Different types of warts affect different parts of the body:
●Common skin warts can show up anywhere on the skin but most often affect the fingers, hands, knees, and elbows (picture 1).

●When common warts are found around the fingernails, they are called “periungual” warts (picture 2).

●Plantar warts are found on the soles (bottoms) of the feet (picture 3)

●Flat warts are usually found on the back of the hands, face, and lower legs (picture 4A-B)

Picture 1.

Picture 2.

Picture 3.

Picture 4A-B

What causes skin warts?
— Warts are caused by germs called viruses. You can get infected with the virus that causes warts by touching another person’s wart. You can also get infected by touching objects that have the virus on them. For instance, people can catch warts by walking barefoot around pools, locker rooms, or gyms.

Should I see a doctor about my wart?
— You should see a doctor if:

●You are not sure that what you have is a wart
●Your wart does not go away with home treatment
●You would like to use home treatment, but are not sure which treatment is right for you

Not everyone needs treatment for warts. Some warts go away on their own within 2 years. But warts can also get bigger or spread, so many people decide to treat their warts.

Is there anything I can do on my own to get rid of warts?
— You can try something called “salicylic acid.” This is a mild acid that you put on warts. It is sold in drugstores and comes in different forms, such as a liquid or patch. If you decide to try salicylic acid, follow the directions on the label. But do not use this treatment if you have a form of nerve damage called “neuropathy.”

How do doctors treat warts?
— Doctors have a few ways to treat warts. They often suggest combining the treatments they use with an at-home treatment, like salicylic acid.

Some of the things a doctor can do to treat warts are:

●Freeze the wart off with a special fluid that gets very cold (called liquid nitrogen)

●Treat the wart with a medicine called cantharidin that destroys warts. This treatment is not painful at first, but it sometimes causes pain, blisters, and swelling shortly after use.

●Shave the wart off with a knife (after numbing the skin)

●Prescribe a skin cream that helps the body get rid of warts

●Inject the wart with a medicine that helps the body fight the virus that causes warts

If you have one of these treatments, ask your doctor what to expect after treatment. That way, if your skin starts to hurt or turns red you will know if it is normal. But if your skin starts to form pus, you should call your doctor right away.

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on:Mar 21, 2017.

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