Common skin warts are an infection in the top layer of skin, caused by human papillomavirus or HPV. When the virus invades this outer layer of skin, usually through a tiny scratch, it causes rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of skin, creating the warts.
What causes the warts?
Scientists have identified more than 100 unique types of the HPV. Most people will have at least one common wart at some time in their lives, usually on their hands. Certain forms of the virus are more likely to cause skin warts on the hands. Other forms of HPV are more likely to cause genital warts, although some strains of the virus can cause both.
How do people get common skin warts?
If you have any type of skin wart, it means that you came in contact with a wart-causing virus sometime in the past, even some months ago.
The viruses are more likely to cause warts when they come in contact with skin that is damaged or cut. Getting a small scrape or biting finger nails may bring on wart. Similarly, small cuts, such as cuts caused from shaving, can provide an avenue for infection. This explains why men may have warts in the beard area, while women often have them appear on the legs.
Warts: Signs and Symptoms
The virus that causes warts can spread from the hands to the face through touch or nail biting.
Common warts have the following characteristics:
- Grow most often on the fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of the hands.
- Are more common where skin was injured.
- Can have black dots that look like seeds.
- Most often feel like rough bumps.
Treatments and Medication
One of the following approaches may be chosen, based on the location of the warts, your symptoms and your preferences. These methods are sometimes used in combination with home treatments, such as salicylic acid.
The goals of treatment are to destroy the wart, and stimulate an immune system response to fight the virus. Treatment may take weeks or months. Even with treatment, warts tend to recur or spread. Doctors generally start with the least painful methods, especially when treating young children.
- Treatment with surgical Co2 Laser. It is a safe technique with an optimal aesthetic effect that seems to excel, especially in areas with frequent recurrences, such as plantar warts.
- Stronger peeling medicine (salicylic acid). Studies show that salicylic acid is more effective when combined with freezing (cryotherapy) (It cannot be used in pregnant women).
- Cryotherapy. It is performed at a doctor’s office, and involves applying liquid nitrogen to the wart. Repeat treatments may be required. It is a safe treatment for children and pregnant women, and local anaesthesia is not essential.
- Other acids. If salicylic acid or cryotherapy is not working, your doctor may try trichloroacetic acid (ΤCA).
- Pulse Dye Laser Treatment. Pulsed-dye lasers cauterise tiny blood vessels. The infected tissue dies, and the wart falls off. The evidence for the effectiveness of this method is limited, while it may cause pain and scarring.