Health Services

Warts

EphNotes

Warts are common, most often benign (not malignant), viral infections of the skin and mucus membranes. They commonly occur in children and young adults, but can occur at any age. The virus is transmitted through direct contact. It may be present on desks, books, doorknobs, steering wheels or shower floors. Often a cut or break in the skin is the port of entry. Also, one cannot get warts from touching a toad.

Types of Warts

  • Common: rough, elevated, round surface most often found on the hands and fingers.
  • Filiform: single, thin, threadlike projections commonly found around the face and neck
  • Flat: multiple groupings of up to several hundred leasions. Slightly elevated lesions with smooth, flat, or round tops. Might be spread by shaving or scratching wart.
  • Plantar: slightly elevated or possibly flat lesions found on the plantar (bottom) of the foot. Might occur alone or in clusters.
  • Digitate: finger-like horny projections arising from a pea-shaped base. Common on scalp or hairline.
  • Condyloma Acuminatum: genital lesions that are usually small, pink to red in color, and soft to touch. Condylomas might be single or in large cauliflower-like clusters. Usually this wart is sexually transmitted, but not always. Certain types of Condylomas have been associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Warts can be diagnosed easily by visual examination by a doctor or nurse. Occasionally warts may disappear due to the body’s own immune response. After a diagnosis is made a treatment can be initiated.

Treatment

Choice of treatment depends on the type and location of the wart. Other considerations might be activity, work habits, or the chance of pregnancy.

  • Cryotherapy: The wart is frozen off using liquid nitrogen. This may take several treatments.
  • Acid therapy: Used to treat plantar warts. Several treatments are necessary.
  • Podophyllum: A medication applied directly to the wart. May take several treatments.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage: The wart is destroyed by using high-frequency electrical sparks.
  • Excision: The wart is removed using a small blade.

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