What is a Wart?
Warts are generally not a cause for significant concern. They are a relatively common skin condition attributed to the human papillomavirus (HPV), although they are aesthetically undesirable. They will naturally improve without requiring treatment, but interventions can sometimes expedite healing.
Warts are small, rough-textured, and dry lumps appear on the skin. They are most frequently found on the hands or feet and may occur as solitary growths or clusters. When a wart develops on the foot, it is called a verruca.
What are the Symptoms of a Wart?
Warts can come in different shapes and sizes; each type may have other symptoms.
Here are some of the more common types of warts and their accompanying symptoms:
These warts are typically round and slightly elevated from the skin's surface. They feel firm to the touch and have a textured, rough surface. Their appearance is often characterised by small, speckled patterns, with the black specks representing tiny blood vessels.
In terms of size, they are generally no larger than one centimetre in width and are commonly found on the hands, often on the knuckles or fingers. They can also develop on the knees.
These small warts are found on the soles of the feet and have a distinct appearance compared to common warts. They are typically white and may occasionally have a black spot in the centre. These warts are flat.
They can cause discomfort, often feeling like a pinprick when you walk on them, and may also provoke itching.
Plantar or Palmar Warts
These warts are frequently observed in children and tend to form on either the hands (palmar warts) or the soles of the feet (known as plantar warts).
They are typically small in size and sometimes cluster together, forming what's called mosaic warts. In mosaic warts, multiple warts grow closely together, creating a pattern resembling a mosaic.
These warts appear near or beneath the nails on your hands or feet. They have a rough texture and can occasionally cause discomfort.
As they grow, they can take on a cauliflower-like texture and have the potential to spread. Additionally, they may alter the shape of your nails during their development.
These warts are flat and tend to form in groups or clusters. They are typically yellowish and generally less than 4mm wide. This type of wart primarily affects children and is commonly found on their hands, legs, and face.
Occasionally referred to as face warts, they have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other types. They exclusively manifest on the face or neck and are characterised by a long, solitary stalk. The colour of this stalk can vary, ranging from yellow, pink, and brown to match the skin tone. These warts are frequently found on the eyelids and lips.
These warts are distinct from the previously mentioned types. They have a soft texture and typically manifest in the genital area. They are transmitted through sexual contact and can lead to symptoms such as itching, discomfort, or pain. For further information on genital warts, it is recommended to seek additional resources.
How are Warts Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose warts through online video consultations by examining the affected area and determining the necessary treatment, if any, based on their evaluation. In less common instances, you may receive a referral for additional testing, which general practitioners can arrange. When dealing with a wart on your face, a specialist referral may be necessary for treatment.
If you have concerns about a wart, it's advisable to consult a doctor for guidance. Additionally, it is essential to contact a general practitioner if your wart:
- Causes severe pain.
- Recurs persistently.
- Changes in appearance.
- It appears on your face or genitals.
What Causes Warts?
Warts result from a viral infection known as the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus can spread through person-to-person contact or touching contaminated surfaces, but close skin-to-skin contact is typically necessary for transmission.
HPV can exist harmlessly on your skin, but any skin injury, such as a scratch, can provide an entry point for the virus, leading to the development of a wart.
Because warts can be transmitted through close contact with infected skin or by contact with virus-contaminated surfaces (such as in shared showers or gym changing rooms), you may want to consider preventive measures. Skin is more susceptible to infection when it's damaged or moist, so covering damaged skin can help prevent warts.
Children, young adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more prone to developing warts. It's also important to note that you can spread the virus to different areas of your own body, so if you have a wart on one part of your body, like your hand, it's advisable to avoid contact with your face or biting your nails to prevent the virus from spreading.
What is the Treatment for Warts?
Many warts will clear up on their own, but this process may take several years, as it can take that long for your body to rid itself of the virus. Treating them can speed up this process.
If the wart is painful, itchy, or in a visible place, causing you to be self-conscious, you can get treatment from a pharmacist or doctor.
The two most common ways to treat a wart include:
Salicylic acid is available in various forms, such as gels, pads, drops, and plasters, and it is effective for treating warts of all sizes. This medication, classified as a keratolytic, dissolves keratin, a predominant protein in the wart's mass. However, avoiding using this method on sensitive skin is essential. Salicylic acid is available over the counter at pharmacies.
Freezing method (cryotherapy)
Another treatment method involves freezing (cryotherapy), where freezing sprays generate temperatures as low as minus 57 degrees Celsius. This freezing process causes the wart to fall off, although multiple sessions may be necessary eventually.
If your wart doesn't respond to these treatments, you may be referred to a dermatologist or skin specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
How can Mobidoctor help?
At Mobi Doctor, you can consult with a doctor using any device, whether a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You won't have to endure long appointment wait times, as our GPs are accessible seven days a week. You can schedule a video consultation from the comfort of your home, workplace, or while on the go.
Our medical professionals will attentively listen to your concerns and symptoms, diagnose your wart, and recommend an appropriate treatment if deemed suitable. They can also facilitate a referral to a specialist for further examination if necessary.