The symptoms are as follows:
Flat warts have these traits:
- Can occur anywhere. Children usually get them on the face. Men get these most often in the beard area, and women tend to get them on their legs.
- Are smaller and smoother than other warts.
- Tend to grow in large numbers — 20 to 100 at a time.
Plantar warts have these traits:
- Grow most often on the soles (plantar surface) of the feet.
- Can grow in clusters (mosaic warts).
- Often are flat or grow inward (walking creates pressure, which causes the warts to grow inward).
- Can hurt, feels like you have pebbles in your shoe.
- Can have black dots.
Common warts have these traits:
- Grow most often on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands.
- Are more common where skin was broken, such as from biting fingernails or picking at hangnails.
- Can have black dots that look like seeds (often called "seed" warts).
- Most often feel like rough bumps.
Filiform warts have these traits:
- Looks like long threads or thin fingers that stick out.
- Often grows on the face: around the mouth, eyes, and nose.
- Often grow quickly.
Your doctor can usually diagnose a wart just by looking at it. Sometimes, your doctor may scrape off the top layer of the wart to look for the clotted blood vessels that are common with warts. If the diagnosis is still in doubt, your doctor may take a small sample to be analyzed in order to rule out other types of skin growths.
A biopsy is a safe and quick procedure for a dermatologist to perform. It should not cause any anxiety.
There are plenty of effective treatments for warts, ranging from creams to laser treatment. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best, depending on the type of wart you have.
Common warts: These warts often respond to over-the-counter topical preparations such as salicylic acid and lactic acid, which work by peeling off the infected skin. Liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy) may also be used.
Plantar warts: These warts may be difficult to get rid of and usually require a stronger solution of salicylic acid. For extremely stubborn plantar warts, your doctor may use laser treatment or liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy).
Genital warts: Treatments for destroying genital warts include the following:*
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) - one of the most popular treatments for warts; results are usually seen after just 1 or 2 treatments
Podophyllin solution (20%) - should not be used by pregnant women, since it can cause birth defects in babies
5% 5-fluorouracil cream - this is a strong cream, so follow your doctor's instructions very carefully when using this product; pregnant women should not use this treatment
Interferon injection - this is a treatment in which your doctor injects a chemical called interferon directly into the wart(s)
Imiquimod cream - a cream treatment for genital warts; follow your doctor's instructions
Cryotherapy or electrocautery - freezing or burning the warts
Laser treatment - an effective method for getting rid of particularly stubborn warts
There is a vaccination for genital warts for females aged 9 to 45 years and males aged 9 to 26 years that protects against 4 common types of HPV. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer, genital warts, and other health problems. The vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause about 90% of all genital warts. It also prevents infection with types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers. There is also another vaccination for HPV available; this vaccination protects against 2 types of HPV that cause 70% of all cervical cancers but does not protect against the strains that cause genital warts.
Apart from genital or plantar warts, many warts will disappear on their own, without any treatment. However, if you find them bothersome, your doctor can prescribe a treatment such as cryotherapy, which involves freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen, or try other medications.
Getting rid of a wart does not actually remove the offending virus. Therefore, to prevent the virus from spreading, it's important to avoid contact with infected items. Try not to touch someone else's warts and don't let bare feet touch unknown moist surfaces. Most importantly, genital warts can be avoided by using condoms during sexual activity. If you're ever diagnosed with genital warts, always complete follow-up exams and tell your partner or previous sexual partners so they can be properly tested and treated.