Typically caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), warts refer to bumps on the skin that are usually harmless. Despite this, they can be painful, contagious and annoying to deal with on a daily basis.
While there are more than 100 HPV strains, most don’t cause any harm unless they form around or on the genitals. To keep you safe and healthy, let’s have a look at the types of warts and how you can identify them.
Types of Warts
There are about five types of warts that can appear on different body parts and have a distinct appearance. They are: common, flat, plantar, periungual, and filiform warts.
These warts typically grow on your toes and fingers but aren’t limited to just those areas. They appear grainy and rough with a round top and may also look greyer than their skin.
In many cases, a diagnosis is made following a detailed examination or by scraping the wart’s top layer off to look for clots in the blood vessels. A doctor may also use shave biopsy, a procedure that requires a tiny section of the wart to be examined in the laboratory for any fatal skin growths.
These types of warts typically grow on your arms, thighs, and face and are hardly noticeable immediately. As the name suggests, these warts consist of a flat top and appear as if they are scraped. Moreover, they could have a brown, pink, or yellow appearance. Flat warts tend to appear in a group or in large numbers. Sometimes, they’re also referred to as juvenile warts and are common among young adults and children.
Identifying and distinguishing flat warts from other warts is quite easy because compared to other warts, they are smoother on top and smaller. It’s also possible to not notice them since they’re not as raised as other warts. You may find them around a break or scratch on the skin. Women are more likely to have them on the legs, while men may have them somewhere around the beard area.
Plantar warts are commonly found on feet. However, the difference between plantar and other warts is that they don’t grow out of the skin.
There are many ways to figure out if you have plantar warts, such as:
- Pain when standing or walking
- Clotted blood vessels that appear in the form of pinpoints
- Lesions on the foot (typically on the heel or the base of your toes)
These warts are usually found around your nose, mouth, under the chin, or neck. They may be shaped as skin tags or small flaps and are often a similar colour to your skin.
Here are a few important characteristics to help you identify filiform warts:
- They may appear pink, yellow, brown, or even the same colour as the flesh
- They are not in clusters like some other warts
- They can be found around a person’s lips or eyes
- Often made up of 2mm long skin projections
Periungual warts commonly occur around your toenails and fingernails. Sometimes they can cause pain and also affect the growth of nails. Initially, they may appear small like a pinhead but eventually grow to bumps that can look similar to a cauliflower.
Even though they may not start as clusters initially, there is a chance that they grow in clusters later on. This condition usually affects young adults and children who frequently bite their nails.
Periungual warts don’t cause pain initially, but you may start to experience mild to severe pain as they grow. You may also notice a slight disruption in your nail growth and disfiguration of the cuticles and nails.
Can Warts Be Treated at Home?
You can generally expect warts to disappear by themselves. However, if they’re making you uncomfortable to a point where you can no longer handle them, there are ways to go about removing them yourself. But before jumping into the treatments, here are some things to note:
- Warts are contagious, so if you’re using something to rub them, don’t use the same implement on another body part
- If you’re diabetic, avoid treating any warts on the feet and consult a doctor immediately
- Avoid using home remedies on sensitive areas such as nostrils, mouth, genitals, and face
Many people use duct tapes to treat warts at home. The technique requires you to apply duct tape on the wart and cover it for many days before you soak it and remove it by rubbing.
Another intervention people often try at home is over-the-counter freezing treatments. This involves using a spray to apply concentrated air on the wart. This kills the skin and makes scraping the surface easier.
Salicylic acid patches are also daily use products that can be effective in the treatment of warts. It’s important to soak your wart for about 20 minutes before you use the patch.
What Are Some Medical Treatments for Warts?
If you don’t notice any improvement with home remedies, it’s better to consult a doctor or dermatologist to see what course of treatment they prescribe. Here are some common medical interventions.
This treatment involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze a wart. Once it’s frozen, warts can be lifted from the target area within a few days. While it can be slightly painful, there are higher chances of the treatment working well. Depending on your doctor’s advice, you may have more than one session.
Surgery is usually the last resort for the treatment of warts if the other treatments haven’t proved effective. Surgeries usually involve surgical knives or electricity to cut away or burn warts. However, surgery may result in scarring.
If you’re dealing with warts, it’s recommended that you contact a professional before attempting any at-home or over the counter remedies.