WARTS: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Understanding the condition and ultimately finding out 'How to get rid of Warts'.

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WARTS: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Identifiable by its rough, cauliflower like surface, a wart is a skin growth caused by a common viral infection. Warts can occur almost anywhere on the body, but are most common on the hands and feet.

WHAT CAUSES WARTS?

Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus causes the infected area of skin to produce excess keratin, resulting in a rough textured bump. They are commonly found on the hands and feet, but can appear anywhere.

WART SYMPTOMS

When the skin’s surface is infected with HPV, the virus causes rough, lumpy growths to appear. Warts are not usually painful, unless they are in an area of skin which catches on clothing or jewellery.

What do warts look like?

  • Firm to the touch and raised
  • Roundish in shape 
  • Of varied size (between 1mm and 1cm)
  • Have a rough, lumpy texture, often likened to cauliflower
  • Can appear on their own, as several dotted over the skin, or clustered closely together

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are warts contagious?

Yes, warts are contagious and can easily be spread through contact to other areas of your face or body, as well as to others. After you have been infected, it can take weeks or months for a wart to actually appear on your skin.

How do you catch warts?

Warts are easily contracted through direct contact from a wart to healthy skin. It is also possible to develop a wart through contact with objects that have been touched by someone with a wart, for example towels, shoes and socks, or swimming pool floors. As warts are contagious, the best prevention is to treat them as soon as possible to avoid them spreading to other areas of your body, or to other people.

What are the different types of warts?

There are five main types of wart: 

Plantar warts

These appear on the soles of the feet and unlike most other warts, they actually grow inwards on the skin, rather than outwards. They can make walking painful and look like a small hole on the sole of your foot.

Flat warts

Flat warts are commonly found on the face, thighs, or arms, and are usually quite small. They have a fairly smooth, flat surface and can be pink, yellow or brownish in appearance.

Filiform warts

Filiform warts grow on the face, around the mouth, nose, neck and chin. They have a similar appearance to a skin tag and are soft and fleshy.

Periungual warts

Periungual warts are found under the nails, both on the hands and feet, and can cause problems with nail growth.

How do I get rid of warts?

Warts will eventually go away by themselves, but for some people, this can take months, or even years. As they are contagious, it’s not always appropriate to let the problem go away by itself.

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR WARTS

  • Duct tape: cover the wart with duct tape (cut a piece about the same size as the wart) and leave it on for six days. Then remove the tape and soak the wart in water, then gently exfoliate the wart with an emery board. Leave the tape off overnight and repeat the process until the wart is gone. 
  • Essential oils: essential oils such as tea tree, oregano, lemon, thyme, eucalyptus, lavender and cedarwood, are sometimes used as a natural remedy for warts. Apply the oil directly onto the wart using a cotton bud, three times a day until it has gone.

Over-the-counter treatments can be time-consuming, messy, painful and ineffective. Professional skin clinics and dermatologists have access to more effective methods and equipment to treat warts quickly and safely.

OTHER TREATMENTS FOR WARTS

Laser removal

A specialised laser heats up the blood vessels feeding the wart, which collapse in on themselves and stop the blood supply. This starves the wart of nutrients so it naturally falls off after a few weeks.

Excision

The wart is carefully cut out using a surgical scalpel. This procedure can be done under local anaesthetic and will require a small stitch in the skin. The wart is removed immediately with this treatment.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze off the wart. The cold temperature kills the cells within the wart, as well as constricting its blood supply. This causes the wart to die and naturally fall off.

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