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Warts are small, skin-coloured, rough lumps on the skin that are benign (non-cancerous). They often appear on the hands and feet. Warts can look different depending on where they are on the body and how thick the skin is. A wart on the sole of the foot is called a verruca.Warts are caused by infection with a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV causes keratin, a hard protein in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis), to grow too much, producing the rough hard texture of a wart.
Alternative Names of Warts are: Verruca vulgaris
Complications of Warts
If you feel that your warts look unattractive, it may affect your confidence and self-esteem, particularly if they cover a large area of your body.
Common complications after treatment include:
Rarely, treatment for warts can cause scarring and infection. It can be very difficult to treat warts in people with weak immune systems (for example, people with an illness such as AIDS or people who have had an organ transplant or treatment for cancer). In some cases, it may not be possible to clear the warts, even with treatment.
Warts are usually harmless in people whose immune systems are working properly, and it is rare for any malignant change in a wart to develop. However, in people whose immune systems are weak (see above), there is a higher risk of a wart becoming malignant.
Causes of Warts
You get warts through direct contact with the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are 100 or more types of HPV. Several types of HPV have been implicated in the cause of cancer of the cervix. Many more types tend to cause warts on your skin. Common warts usually occur on your hands, fingers or near your fingernails. Other types of HPV tend to cause warts in other places, such as on the soles of the feet, the genitals, or the face and legs.
Signs & Symptoms of Warts
Common warts are:
Warts may occur singly or in multiples. They may bleed if picked or cut and often contain one or more tiny black dots, which are sometimes called wart "seeds" but are actually small, clotted blood vessels. Common warts are usually painless. Young adults and children appear to be affected most often.
Other locations for warts
other types of HPV tend to cause warts in other places:
Diagnosis of Warts
The diagnosis is most often made on the basis of clinical appearance. Diagnostic clues include black dots within the warts and/or pinpoint bleeding after paring down the thickened skin. The wart also tends to disturb the natural skin lines and creates a disrupted surface. A biopsy can be used to confirm clinical suspicion, provide proper diagnosis, and help determine if progression to skin cancer, a rare complication, has occurred.
Treatments of Warts
A variety of creams, gels and medicated plasters for treating warts are available from pharmacies. Most of these contain salicylic acid as their active ingredient. Examples include the brands Compound W and Bazuka. Salicylic acid works by destroying the thickened skin that makes up the wart. The following are some tips for successful treatment.
Prevention of Warts
To reduce the risk that you or your child will get or spread warts:
When to seek Medical Advice
Most common warts don't require medical treatment, but some people choose to have their warts treated because they are bothersome, spreading or a cosmetic concern. Most warts disappear on their own or with home care. Prompt treatment by a doctor or dermatologist, however, may decrease the chance that the warts will spread to other areas of your body or to other people. See your doctor if your warts or your child's warts persist, despite home treatment. Also see your doctor if your warts are bothersome, painful or rapidly multiplying.
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This site does not provide medical or any other health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. The site and its services, including the information above, are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment. Do not delay seeking or disregard medical advice based on information on this site.