Warts: What Are They, What Types Are There and How to Remove Them

Warts are not serious, but they can be very annoying. We tell you what treatments exist to eliminate them and if it is always necessary to remove them.

Common warts are raised formations on the skin with different shapes and consistencies. They are caused by the infection of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a pathogen with more than 100 subtypes responsible for causing warty lesions of different considerations. The most common subtypes of HPV are linked to common warts. These formations are not usually serious, although they can become very annoying and unsightly when they grow. In addition, they can cause secondary discomfort and injury if, for example, they rub against or catch on clothing or other objects.

Although they are very common in children, vulgar warts can appear at any time in life. They are transmitted by direct contact with another infected person or with objects that someone with warts has used (towels, gloves, glasses …).

Types of warts

  • Plantar warts. Better known as papillomas, plantar warts appear on the soles of the feet. This location makes them very painful due to the pressure of the body’s weight when walking or putting on shoes, which is why they almost always require treatment to eliminate them instead of waiting for them to disappear on their own.
  • Flat warts.  Flat warts are more common in children and adolescents. They do not stand out too much and their color is usually whiter and similar to that of the skin than the rest of common warts. They are small in size and are distributed in groups or clusters.
  • Filiform warts. Elongated in shape and softer in texture, they usually appear on the neck and eyelids. They are attached to the skin by a small area. They often come off on their own and are often caught by fingernails, neck chains, brush, or comb.
  • Vulgar warts They are the most common. They are rounded in shape, can appear in groups or solitary, and their surface is rough. They form on the back and palms of the hands and soles of the feet, between the fingers, and sometimes on the face, neck, and scalp.
  • Subungual and periungual warts. This is the name given to warts that appear, under or around the nails, respectively.
  • Genital warts. They are also called condylomas. They are softer inconsistency and are sometimes shaped like cauliflower when they are very numerous. They are located in any area of ​​the genital area (penis, vulva), in the groin and in the perianal region. They are very contagious since the urogenital mucosa is more delicate and susceptible to erosions and small wounds that facilitate the entry of HPV. They are transmitted during sexual intercourse.

Treatments for warts

Warts do not always need specific treatment, since approximately one-third of them disappear spontaneously within six months of having erupted. In addition, if they do not cause discomfort or pain, do not grow, or if they are located in an inconspicuous place, it is not strictly necessary to remove them.

However, condylomata, vulgar warts, or plantar warts, or those that do cause discomfort can be eliminated in different ways.

One of the most common methods for the treatment of common warts is the application of salicylic acid, directly on the surface of the wart after having scraped its surface with a file to facilitate the penetration of the active principle. It is done at home by the patient himself. They can also be removed with cold (cryotherapy), or other topical agents such as cantharidin, always performed by the dermatologist. Surgery is a practically obsolete technique today.

Some warts that are filiform or attached to a very small root can be removed by strangling it with surgical floss. However, this method takes time and is not always welcomed by the patient. On the other hand, cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen or electrocoagulation (with prior anesthesia) is feasible, always performed by expert hands (dermatologist).

If we have genital warts, we must always go to the dermatologist for correct diagnosis and treatment, since it is a highly contagious infection and also in some types of HPV it can be associated with certain types of carcinomas.

Before resorting to any home method or folk remedies, it is essential to consult a specialist, who will establish the best way to remove warts.

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