A wart is a small area of hardened skin that usually has a bumpy, rough surface. Warts are caused by a virus that infects the top layer of the skin. Common viruses of the human papilloma virus (HPV) family may enter the skin through tiny cuts or scratches, causing an extra growth of hardened tissue at the location, and producing a wart.
Warts appear in many parts of the body and can take different shapes, sizes, and colors, but are mostly benign (non-cancerous, non-harmful). Their impact on a person may be simply cosmetic. Some warts may clear in a few weeks without any treatment. Some warts require aggressive treatments and may take months (or years) to remove.
Types of warts
The most frequent types of warts include:
- Common warts range in size from a grain of salt to the size of a dime. When they harden and become scaly, they feel rough to the touch and, depending on their location, may cause slight pain. Common warts are often found on the back of the hands, feet and on your fingers and nails.
- Plantar warts occur mostly on the soles of the feet. Some can be quite large and may cause pain and discomfort when you stand or walk. Because of their location, they can be difficult to treat, and the more you walk, the deeper they have a tendency to push up into your foot.
- Filiform warts usually appear one the face, forming small spiky fibers of skin tissue. No one likes warts, but their presence on the face can be especially unnerving.
- Flat warts also tend to develop in the face, as well as on the forearms and hands. They are frequently small and have a light brown color.
- Mosaic warts, like their cousin the plantar wart, also appear on the soles of the feet – as well as around the toes – but are white and usually smaller. They tend to be flatter and less painful than plantar warts but undesirable nonetheless.
- Genital warts tend to develop in the genital or anal areas of both adult men and women. Usually reddish or light brown in hue, they can be unpleasant and unsightly but are mostly harmless. They are the most common of the sexually transmitted diseases.
Who gets warts?
Most people develop a wart at some point in their lives, but are particularly common in children, teens and young adults, with up to one-third being affected.
Those who use locker rooms, public showers and pools are at a higher risk of developing warts, as are people who work with raw meat (e.g., butchers and cooks), and individuals who are exposed to others’ warts (e.g., siblings and teammates). Children may also come in contact with wart-causing viruses when sharing objects at school with others who are already infected.
It would wonderful to think that warts can be cast off with a magic spell, but outside of fairy tales, the best way to treat warts is to reach out to an experienced board-certified dermatologist. Dr. Ana M. Duarte and her staff at the Children’s Skin Center are South Florida’s premier pediatric dermatology practice. With offices in Miami (Nicklaus Children’s Hospital main campus), Coral Gables, Doral, Miami Lakes, Miramar, Kendall, Pinecrest, and Palm Beach Gardens, getting kid-friendly dermatology care with a board-certified dermatologist has never been easier or more convenient. Call 305-669-6555 or use the secure online form to schedule your appointment today.