Warts

Warts are small, rough, hard, flesh-colored skin growths. They are a symptom of a benign, superficial viral infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). The HPV virus is responsible for many common viral infections. They affect about 10% of Americans. Warts are more common in children, than adults. There are three common types: Common warts, flat warts and Plantar warts.

What are common warts?

Common warts develop on the hands and fingers, and knee and elbows, but can also be found under and around the fingernails and toenails. They look like calluses but may contain black dots called seed warts. Warts on the fingers often develop as a result of a break in the skin (like a hang nail or scratch), through which the virus enters the skin. 10 – 20% of children have common warts.

Common warts grow slowly and are contagious. They easily spread to other areas of the body, and to other people. While most common warts are harmless, they are extremely difficult to eliminate. Topical therapies can take at least three months to work and can be painful and in rare cases disfiguring. Despite multiple treatment options there is no single recommended treatment.

Some small common warts can disappear on their own. However, because they are contagious, all warts should be treated to prevent spread. Over the counter treatments with salicylic acid kill the wart by activating the immune system to fight off the virus.

When the home treatments fail to work, or the wart is painful, grows larger, bleeds, or spreads it should be treated by Dr. Anna Chacon. She can treat your warts with cryotherapy, freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, or by burning off the wart with a laser.

What are Flat warts?

Men get them where they shave, in the beard area, and women get them where they shave, the legs. They are more common in older children than adults. Flat warts are commonly flesh-colored or reddish brown, small and smooth, round or oval and the size of a pin head. Flat warts usually grow in large clusters.

Flat warts are also caused by the HPV virus entering broken skin. They are spread easily but tend to disappear without treatment. Self-treatments are available; however, they take time to work, and can create a risk of scarring. Professional treatments include retinoic acid, Imiquimod cream and Topical F-FU.

What are Plantar warts?

Plantar warts occur on the soles of the feet. They are caused by the HPV virus entering a wound or break in the skin. They are often contracted from communal showers, walking barefoot, and in people with poor immune function. Plantar warts are common in children and young adults. There may be only one or a cluster of these warts.

Plantar warts look like tiny black dots or calluses. Plantar warts are slow growing and grow deep into the skin. Symptoms are pain with pressure when walking, standing and when being squeezed. They are easily diagnosed by their appearance and symptoms. They do not require treatment and may resolve on their own. However, when they are painful Dr. Chacon can treat them with topical and oral medications, salicylic acid, laser, cryotherapy and surgery.

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