Warts and verrucas (also known as plantar warts) are small lumps that often develop on the skin, particularly on hands and feet. They are caused by a viral infection specifically, certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). This virus causes an excess amount of keratin, a hard protein, to develop in the top skin layer (epidermis). The result of this keratin overgrowth is a wart, or if it’s on the foot, a verruca.
Warts are typically round or oval and are hard, rough, and can be grey, brown or yellow in color. They can appear individually or in clusters. Some have tiny black dots in them which are basically small, clotted blood vessels.
Verrucas, on the other hand, are usually found on the soles of the feet. They have a white appearance often with a black dot in the middle. They can be flat, hence can be painful when pressure is applied, like when walking or standing.
Warts and verrucas are contagious and can spread from person to person, or even by contact with an affected surface like communal showers. They generally disappear on their own without treatment over time, but it could take years. Treatments are available including salicylic acid based creams, freezing (cryotherapy) and, in more resistant cases, various minor surgical procedures.
Causes of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that most people have at some point in their life. They usually go away on their own but may take months or even years.
Warts and verrucas are caused by a group of viruses known as human papillomaviruses (HPVs). When these viruses come into contact with your skin, they can cause an excess amount of keratin, a hard protein, to be produced. This creates a rough, hard texture on the skin – a wart.
This typically happens when the virus enters the body through a small cut or scratch. It can then cause cells in the outer layer of your skin to multiply rapidly, leading to a wart. Several types of HPV are particularly likely to cause warts; these include types 1, 2, 4, 27, 29, and 57.
Verrucas, also known as plantar warts, are warts that occur on the soles of the feet. They are flat and often have tiny black dots in them. Verrucas are caused by particular strains of the HPV virus, typically types 1, 2, 4, and 63.
Both warts and verrucas can spread through close skin-to-skin contact and by touching objects or surfaces that a person with a wart has touched. They may also spread in moist environments, like showers, swimming pools, or locker room floors. You can also spread warts to other parts of your own body.
Not everyone who comes in contact with HPV will get warts. This varies from person to person and depends on your immune system. Those with weaker immune systems are more susceptible to developing warts. It’s also worth noting that warts are more common in children and teenagers due to their immune systems not being fully developed.
Risk Factors of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas (a specific type of wart that occurs on the feet) are skin growths caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Here are some risk factors that increase the chance of getting warts and verrucas:
1. Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems (due to conditions like AIDS or immunosuppressant drugs) are more susceptible as their body may struggle to fight off the HPV virus.
2. Age: Children and teenagers are more likely to get warts and verrucas because their immune systems have not yet built resistance to the many types of HPV.
3. Skin Trauma: Any cut or damage to the skin can make it easier for the virus to enter the body and cause warts.
4. Direct Contact: Warts and verrucas are contagious. You can get them through close skin-to-skin contact or by touching something that a person with a wart has touched, such as towels, shoes, or exercise equipment.
5. Moist Environment: Warts thrive in warm, moist environments, such as swimming pools and communal showers, hence walking barefoot in these areas can increase the risk.
6. Public Places: Public places like gyms and locker rooms are breeding grounds for warts and verrucas as many people come in contact with the same objects and surfaces.
Remember, not everyone who comes in contact with HPV will develop warts or verrucas. It depends on the individual’s immune response. Nevertheless, good hygiene practices and regular hand washing can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Signs and Symptoms of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that are generally harmless but could be aesthetically displeasing or, in some cases, uncomfortable or painful. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Here are some of the signs and symptoms you should look for:
1. Small, fleshy, rough lumps on the skin.
2. Color can ranges from normal skin tone to darker, greyish, or brown.
3. They commonly occur on hands and fingers.
4. Warts may appear singly or in groups.
5. They could be painful, especially when they are on a part of your body that you use frequently or that gets bumped or touched often.
6. Sometimes warts may have black pinpoints, which are also known as wart seeds.
Verrucas (Plantar Warts):
1. These are warts that occur on the soles of the feet.
2. They often have a small black dot in the middle, surrounded by hard, white skin.
3. They can be flat rather than raised because they are pushed into the skin by the body weight.
4. Verrucas could be painful when you walk or put pressure on them.
5. Sometimes, several verrucas cluster together in one area.
Remember, warts and verrucas are contagious. Direct contact can spread them to other people or other parts of the body. That’s why, after identifying these signs, it is best to seek medical advice to get appropriate treatment.
Diagnosis Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small lumps that often develop on the skin, mainly on the hands and feet. They are caused by an infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). The hallmark of this virus family is the ability to infect the skin and mucous membranes.
Warts often have a rough, irregular surface whereas verrucas (also known as plantar warts) usually owe their flat appearance due to the pressure physical activities like walking and standing puts on it. Verrucas are usually found on the soles of the feet.
When the HPV enters the body, it causes the skin cells to proliferate excessively, resulting in a wart. Warts are generally harmless, though they may cause some people embarrassment or discomfort, especially if they appear in visible areas such as the hands or face.
Verrucas, on the other hand, can be more bothersome because they appear on the soles of the feet and can be painful due to the body weight pressing on them.
Diagnosis of warts and verrucas is typically done through a simple examination by a healthcare provider, as these growths have a distinct appearance. In rare cases, a biopsy may be done to definitively confirm the diagnosis. Treatment can involve over-the-counter medications, prescription treatments, or in some cases, minor surgical procedures.
The HPV virus is contagious and can be passed from person to person by close skin-to-skin contact or on surfaces in common use. If a person has a wart, it can spread to other parts of their body as well if left untreated. However, it is also possible for people to come in contact with the virus and not develop warts or verrucas.
Treatment of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small lumps on the skin that most people have at some point in their life. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
The treatment of warts and verrucas generally involves a variety of strategies, including:
1. Topical treatments: These are commonly bought over the counter from the pharmacy and include salicylic acid and other chemicals which are designed to ‘burn’ off the wart or verruca. These treatments usually take a few weeks of regular application to work and need to be applied carefully, to avoid damaging surrounding skin.
2. Cryotherapy: This is where a healthcare professional applies liquid nitrogen to the wart or verruca to freeze it, which kills the affected skin cells. This treatment can be slightly painful and may need to be repeated a number of times.
3. Other Treatments: other treatments include duct tape occlusion therapy (where duct tape is applied to the wart for a period of days or weeks to help the body’s own immune system attack the wart), minor surgery to cut out the wart, laser treatment, or chemical treatments that are stronger than those available at a pharmacy. Always consult a healthcare professional before going forward with these treatments.
4. Prescription medication: In some cases, a doctor might prescribe medication to help treat warts and verrucas, particularly if they’re widespread or keep coming back.
5. Boosting Immune Response: Since HPV is a virus, helping your immune systems such as living a healthy lifestyle and in some cases taking specific medications, can aid your body in fighting it off.
Before starting any treatment, it is important to properly diagnose the lesion, as true warts or verrucas should be differentiated from other similar appearing conditions. In addition, if the warts and verrucas are painful, spread rapidly, or respond poorly to treatment, consultation with a healthcare provider is required.
It’s also worth mentioning that it’s not unusual for warts and verrucas to clear up on their own without treatment, particularly in children. This is because the body’s immune system will often mount its own defense and eventually get rid of them.
Medications commonly used for Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), can sometimes go away on their own. However, if they do not, there are several common medications and treatments that might be used to manage these skin conditions:
1. Salicylic Acid: This is relatively mild and is typically used in many over-the-counter treatments. It works by triggering the immune system to destroy the wart. It’s also a keratolytic medication, which means it dissolves the protein (keratin), that makes up most of the wart and thick layer of dead skin that often tops it.
2. Imiquimod Cream: This through topical application boosts the immune system’s ability to fight off the wart. It is a prescription medication used primarily for genital warts, but can be used for other types of warts as well.
3. Podophyllin and Podofilox: These plant-based resins are potent and can destroy tissue. Podophyllin is applied by a healthcare provider. Podofilox is a medication you apply yourself, is less likely to cause severe burning and has fewer side effects than podophyllin.
4. Trichloroacetic Acid: This is a topical treatment that burns off warts. It is often used when other medications have failed. It’s applied by a healthcare provider.
5. Cantharidin: Usually used if other treatments have not been effective. A healthcare provider applies the medication and then covers the area with a bandage. This causes a blister to develop underneath the wart, which should lift the growth from the skin.
6. Retinoids: These are medications derived from Vitamin A. They disrupt the wart’s skin cell growth. They can be topical or oral.
7. Laser Treatment: If traditional methods fail, or warts are extensive, laser treatment may be considered.
8. Cryotherapy: Also known as freezing therapy, it’s a standard treatment for warts. Liquid nitrogen is applied to and around the wart to freeze it, causing it to fall off.
9. Surgical removal: In persistent cases, a doctor may recommend surgically removing the wart.
Always consult with a healthcare provider before beginning any treatment regimen. Over-the-counter treatments should also be used as directed to avoid skin damage.
Prevention of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas are small, non-cancerous growths caused by a viral infection within the skin, specifically the human papillomavirus (HPV). Here are some preventive measures for warts and verrucas:
1. Hygiene: Maintain good personal hygiene: Regular washing and drying of the hands and feet can help prevent the spread of the virus.
2. Avoid direct contact: Avoid direct contact with people’s warts or verrucas since the virus is contagious. This includes your own as touching them can cause them to spread to other parts of your body.
3. Protective footwear: Wear flip-flops or pool shoes in public areas like swimming pools, showers or locker rooms, where the virus may thrive.
4. Avoid sharing personal items: Avoid sharing towels, socks, shoes, razors or any other personal items with people who have warts or verrucas.
5. Maintain skin health: Try to keep your skin healthy and free from cuts or scrapes, as the virus can enter the skin via these routes.
6. Safe sex: Practice safe sex. Some types of HPV which can cause genital warts are sexually transmitted.
7. Vaccination: Get vaccinated against HPV. Nowadays, HPV vaccines are available that can protect against the most common types of the virus.
8. Care for existing warts or verrucas: If you have warts or verrucas, cover them with a waterproof bandage during swimming, avoid scratching or picking at them, and dispose of any cleaning materials after treating them.
Remember, even with these prevention tips, it’s still possible to contract the virus that causes warts and verrucas, but these practices can greatly reduce your risk.
FAQ’s about Warts and verrucas
Sure, here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about warts and verrucas:
1. What are warts?
Warts are small lumps that develop on the skin, mainly on the hands and feet. They are common and are caused by a viral infection.
2. What are verrucas?
Verrucas (also known as plantar warts) are warts that occur on the soles of the feet.
3. How are warts and verrucas spread?
They are spread through close skin-to-skin contact or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces.
4. How do you treat warts and verrucas?
Often, warts and verrucas will disappear on their own without treatment. Over-the-counter treatments are available for more stubborn cases, as are treatments from a doctor or dermatologist, which may include freezing or surgical removal.
5. Are certain people more likely to get warts and verrucas?
Yes, people with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract the virus that causes warts and verrucas. Children and teenagers are also more susceptible.
6. How do I prevent getting warts or verrucas?
Avoid sharing towels, footwear, or other personal items with a person who has warts or verrucas. Wearing flip-flops in communal showers or pool areas can also help prevent infection.
7. How can I tell if a lump on my skin is a wart or verruca?
Warts are often rough and skin-colored, but can also be dark, flat, and smooth. Verrucas are usually on the soles of the feet and are often white, with a black dot in the center.
Please note that this information should not replace the medical advice of a healthcare professional. Always consult with a doctor if you have any concerns about your health.
Warts and verrucas are small, rough skin growths caused by various strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are common, contagious, and can appear anywhere on the body. Warts often resolve on their own over time, but some types may require medical treatment.
Here’s a list of useful links from medical journals regarding warts and verrucas:
Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional for accurate information.
Complications of Warts and verrucas
Warts and verrucas (a specific type of wart that occurs on the feet) are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Here are some possible complications associated with warts and verrucas:
1. Discomfort and Pain: Warts and verrucas can cause discomfort or pain, depending on where they’re located. This is especially true with verrucas (plantar warts) since they’re on the pressure points on the soles of the feet.
2. Spreading: Warts and verrucas can spread to other parts of your body, especially if you scratch or pick at them. They can also spread to other people through direct skin contact or by contact with surfaces touched by the infected person (like a shower floor or swimming pool).
3. Changes in Appearance: Although warts and verrucas aren’t usually a serious health concern, they can create cosmetic issues and potentially impact self-esteem. In some cases, treatment might cause changes in skin color.
4. Recurrence: Even after treatment, warts and verrucas can come back. This happens if the virus remains in the skin after the wart has gone away.
5. Secondary Infections: If a wart or verruca is scratched or picked at, it can lead to a secondary bacterial infection or cause the wart to spread on the surface of the skin.
6. Complications in Patients with Weakened Immune Systems: For people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, warts and verrucas can be a serious problem. The body might not be able to fight off the virus, leading to a greater number of warts that grow more quickly and are more difficult to manage.
If you suspect you have a wart or verruca, it is best to seek advice from a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Home remedies of Warts and verrucas
Here are some home remedies that might help in the case of warts and verrucas:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it directly to the wart. Cover the area with a bandage and leave it on overnight. Do this daily for weeks, it can help to slowly dissolve the wart.
2. Garlic: Crush a clove of garlic and apply it onto the wart, then wrap the area with a bandage. Garlic has antiviral properties which can help in getting rid of the wart.
3. Banana Peel: Rub the inside of a banana peel on the wart daily. The chemicals in the peel will help the wart to shrink and disappear.
4. Tea Tree Oil: Apply tea tree oil directly to the wart, then cover with a bandage. Tea tree oil has strong antiviral properties and can help your body kill the virus causing the wart.
5. Aloe Vera: Aloe contains malic acid, which can help attack the wart’s virus. Apply aloe vera gel directly to the wart daily.
6. Epsom Salt: Soak the wart in warm water for 15 minutes, then soak it in a mix of warm water and Epsom salt for another 15 minutes.
Please remember, however, home remedies can take longer and might not be as effective as treatment from a healthcare professional. Warts and verrucas can be stubborn and sometimes require more targeted treatment methods, which is why it is advisable to see a doctor if they persist or cause discomfort. It’s also important to remember not to try and physically remove the wart yourself, as this can cause damage and potential complications.