What are warts?
Warts are small skin growths caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many different types of HPV. Warts can grow on any part of your skin, and they may also spread to other people.
Warts may be raised or flat growths
They can appear on regular skin or on your genitals
Warts happen to people of all ages, but they are especially common in children
Most warts are harmless, but certain kinds of genital warts Genital Warts HPV is a virus that causes warts. There are many types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause warts on your skin Other types of HPV cause warts on your genitals (genital warts) Some of the types of... read more can cause cancer
If your wart doesn’t go away by itself, doctors may remove it with chemicals, freezing, or burning and cutting
Vaccines Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps protect against infection by the strains of HPV that are most likely to cause the following: Cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer in... read more can prevent infection with certain types of HPV, particularly the types that can also cause cancer
What causes warts?
Warts are caused by a type of virus called HPV. There are more than 100 types of HPV. You can get a wart by touching another person's wart, including by having sex with someone who has a wart on the penis, vagina, or rectum. Oral sex can cause an HPV infection in your mouth or throat.
Children and young adults are more likely to get warts. Risk is also higher in people with a weakened immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more , such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who've had an organ transplant.
What are the specific types of warts?
Are small, firm growths with a rough surface and may be gray, yellow, brown, or black
Appear on body parts that are often injured, such as your knees, face, fingers, or elbows
May spread to nearby skin
Plantar and palmar warts:
Are hard, flat, and rough and may be gray or brown with a small black center
Palmar warts appear on the palm of your hand
Plantar warts usually appear on the sole of your foot but may appear as raised growths on the top of your foot or on your toes
Plantar warts are often tender and may be painful when you stand or walk
Mosaic warts are groups of smaller plantar or palmar warts that join together.
Are thick growths around your nails that may have the texture of cauliflower
May cause problems such as infections in the skin around your nail
Usually happen to people who bite their nails or often have wet hands, such as dishwashers
Are long, narrow, small growths that usually appear on your eyelids, face, neck, or lips
Are usually easy to treat
Are more common among children and young adults
Usually appear in groups as smooth, flat-topped, yellow-brown, pink, or flesh-colored spots
Often appear on your face, tops of your hands, along scratch marks, or where you shave—such as around a man’s beard or on a woman’s legs
May be hard to treat
Genital warts: Genital Warts HPV is a virus that causes warts. There are many types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause warts on your skin Other types of HPV cause warts on your genitals (genital warts) Some of the types of... read more
Appear on the penis, anus, vulva, vagina, or cervix
May be flat and smooth or may be bumpy like cauliflower
Often itch if they’re around your anus
Are spread by having sex
Increase your risk of cancer in the area where the warts are
How can doctors tell if I have warts?
Doctors recognize warts by the way they look. If you have a skin growth that doctors don’t recognize, they may remove it to look at under a microscope (biopsy).
How do doctors treat warts?
Many warts disappear without treatment in a year or two, especially common warts. If you have genital warts Genital Warts HPV is a virus that causes warts. There are many types of HPV. Some types of HPV cause warts on your skin Other types of HPV cause warts on your genitals (genital warts) Some of the types of... read more , doctors will treat them with medical creams, chemicals, or sometimes surgery. Doctors will remove most kinds of warts using chemicals, freezing, burning them off with a laser, or cutting them off. The treatment depends on the kind of wart, where it is on your body, and how big it is.
Any kind of wart may come back after it goes away or is removed, especially a plantar wart.
Wart removal using chemical creams and liquids:
Doctors usually use creams or liquids that contain salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid, or other chemicals that make warts disappear or peel off
Some chemicals can be applied yourself at home following directions carefully so you don’t burn your skin
You or your doctor need to scrape dead tissue off the wart before each treatment
To get rid of a wart, you or your doctor will probably have to treat it many times during several weeks to months
Wart removal using freezing (cryotherapy):
Doctors usually use freezing to treat plantar warts, filiform warts, and warts under fingernails
Doctors may numb the area when treating warts on children
You’ll usually need to get many treatments one month apart, especially if your wart is large
Wart removal using burning and cutting:
Doctors use a laser or electrical current to burn warts off
These treatments work well but are more painful and usually leave a scar
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