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Warts are skin-colored growths that often occur on the hands and feet. They usually have a rough appearance.

Different types of warts

There are several types of warts, and these include:

Common warts: Common warts are usually firm and raised up. In terms of appearance, they can look similar to a cauliflower. Although common warts can occur anywhere on the body, they commonly develop on the hands, knees and elbows. Some people may have multiple common warts but these will usually be less than twenty.

Verrucas: Verrucas occur on the feet, particularly the soles. They can be distinguished by the small black dot is often present in the center, which acts as the blood supply. The rest of the verruca is a hard growth that is white in color.

Plane warts: Plane warts are round growths that have a flat top and a yellow appearance. They predominantly affect children on the hands, face and legs, and much less common amongst adults.

Filiform warts: Filiform warts are long and slender in appearance. They are common occurrences on thin areas of skin, particularly the eyelids, neck and armpits.

Mosaic warts: Mosaic warts occur in clusters, particularly on the hands and feet.

Why do warts occur?

Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which encourages a hard protein called keratin to form in the epidermis (the top layer of the skin). If too much is formed, it will result in a wart. Warts can be more likely in individuals who have a weak immune system or who suffer from atopic eczema.

Are warts a cause for concern?

Most warts are benign and will not usually become cancerous. However, they are contagious and can be easily spread through close contact with the affected areas. Warts can also be spread through clothing, towels and anything else that has been in close contact with them. A wart that suddenly alters in appearance or starts bleeding should be checked out.

How can warts be treated?

Warts can disappear on their own accord but this can take up to two years or even longer. Because of this, many people choose to pursue treatment in the hope that their warts clear up more quickly. Treatment for warts can vary depending on the exact location of the wart. There can be certain side effects such as irritation to the surrounding skin, discomfort and blisters.

Salicylic acid: These treatments are available without a prescription in the form of creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters. In addition to using the treatment, the wart also needs to be rubbed once a week with a pumice stone or emery board to get rid of dead tissue. This is not a quick fix for getting rid of warts as most salicylic acid treatments need to be applied for up to twelve weeks before they fully get to work. This treatment will not always be successful but it is one of the least intrusive ways to remove warts. As salicylic acid has strong potential to damage healthy skin, it should only be allowed to come into contact with the wart(s). Salicylic acid treatments are not suitable for facial warts or if you have circulatory problems.

Cyrotherapy: Warts can be destroyed if they are frozen with liquid nitrogen. A sore blister will develop after the treatment and this will be followed by a scab. The latter will fall off within ten days. This treatment tends to cause less irritation than other forms of wart removal, but it can be uncomfortable and a local anesthetic may be necessary beforehand.
Surgical removal: This form of removal is not commonly used due to the risk of scarring and the possibility that the wart will return at a later date. If it is carried out, the choice is usually between laser treatment (in which warts are removed through extremely precise laser beams), electrocautery (in which the wart is burnt off through electrical currents) and photodynamic therapy (in which the wart is destroyed through a light-activated chemical that is absorbed into the cells) .

Chemical treatments: This form of wart removal contains harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde that serve to poison skin cells. When applied to warts, the cells are immediately destroyed. As it is a strong treatment, a prescription will usually be needed before buying.

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