Warts are common, non-cancerous growths caused by an infection with human papilloma virus. There are several different types of wart and their appearance varies depending on their location.
Plantar warts are located on the soles of your feet, while palmar warts grow on the palms of your hands. In both locations, these warts appear pushed in either from pressure of hand use or pressure from walking. They are flat with tiny black dots and loss of the skin lines. Plantar warts may feel uncomfortable, and are often times painful.
Common warts affect the fingers, around the nails and on the backs of the hands. They are raised and skin colored with a rough surface and black dots.
Flat warts are smaller and smoother in texture. They grow in clusters, and occur predominantly on the face.
Genital warts, medically known as condyloma accuminata, are sexually transmitted. They are flesh colored, may be smooth or rough, and can appear on any area of the genital region including inside the vagina, on the cervix, on the anal verge and within the rectum. In women, some strains of genital warts are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer while, in men, perianal warts may carry a risk of squamous cell carcinoma. Careful follow up with a gynecologist or a proctologist, respectively, is necessary in these cases.
There are a variety of treatment modalities available to eradicate warts. Cryosurgery (freezing) is most commonly used to destroy warts, but electrosurgery (burning) or an application of an acid may also be done. An alternative approach is immunotherapy, in which the body’s immune system is triggered to fight the wart using a variety of agents (e.g. imiquimod, cantharidin, candida antigen). Additional options include injectable chemotherapeutics (e.g. bleomycin) and other medications that prevent the wart virus from dividing (e.g. podophyllin). Regardless of the treatment used, repeat treatments are usually required.